New Bush Ad

“When I hear Bush say, `You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans. It conjures up memories of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (The enemy is listening).’ My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.” — Wealthy supporter of Left-wing causes George Soros.

“The administration works closely with a network of rapid-response digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for undermining support for our troops…” — former Vice President Al Gore.

Americans are typically a congenitally open, friendly, and hopeful people, and they find mean-spiritedness distasteful and off-putting. Americans prefer happy endings over smug, sophisticated cynicism. Former President Ronald Reagan played to these virtues and easily defeated an incumbent pessimistic president, who looked to future and only saw decline. When President Bill Clinton was mired in the muck surrounding his prevarications under oath, Clinton managed to shoulder the mantle of victim-hood and make his accusers appear vindictive. Vindictiveness appeared to many as even tinier than Clinton’s smallness. This comparison worked to Clinton’s benefit and made it politically impossible to convict Clinton in the Senate.

The Republicans have recently carefully crafted a campaign commercial that plays on the American aversion to excessive partisanship by splicing together vitriolic anti-Bush ads and speeches by Democratic and Left-wing leaders. The commercial can be found at

The campaign ad begins with a title scene: “The Faces of John Kerry’s Democratic Party. The Coalition of the Wild Eyed.” The title scene is followed by the wildest eyed partisan of all, the person with a soul of a vice-president, Al Gore. To a background of hearty cheers, Gore shouts: “How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam’s Hussein’s torture prison.”

The MoveOn organization is a limitless reservoir of anti-Bush hatred and exaggeration. The Bush ad inserts a clip submitted to a MoveOn campaign ad contest. It shows a red stylized image of Adolf Hitler over the words “What were war crimes in 1945…” followed by a similarly stylized image of George Bush, with his hand up vaguely reminiscent of a Nazi salute, and the words, “…is Foreign policy in 2003.” All the time in the background, there is the drum beat of voices shouting “Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!”

Next the Bush ad sequences through facial close-ups of speakers addressing anti-Bush crowds worked up to a fever pitch:

  • Former Democratic presidential candidate Governor Howard Dean barking, “I want my country back.”
  • Film maker Michael Moore and chief propagandist for the Left asserting, “We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.”
  • Normally, well-mannered Representative Dick Gephardt screaming, “The president is a miserable failure.”

Dipping once again into the infinite well of MoveOn’s anti-Bush venom, the Bush ad splices in another clip submitted to MoveOn. It shows a photographs of Adolf Hitler and George Bush, with the words “God told me to strike at Al Qaeda and I struck at them … and then he instructed me to tike at Saddam, which I did.”

The Bush ad picks up pace as it switches once again to Gore shouting to a frenzied crowd, “He betrayed this country. He played on our fear.”

Finally, we see John Kerry, angrily telling us that “Today George Bush will lay off your camel, tax your shovel, kick your ass, and tell you there is no promised land.”

The ad suddenly switches to soothing piano music and we see a flattering image of George Bush. The ad ends by seizing the moral high ground with the words, “This is not a time for pessimism and rage. It is a time for optimism, steady leadership, and progress.”

This commercial will be studied for some time because it cleverly turns the anti-Bush ads on their heads. The MoveOn ads and the Democratic rhetoric try to portray Bush as an evil and even Hitlerian character. By exhibiting this extreme position to a moderate general audience rather than to true-believers on the Left, the Bush ad makes Kerry supporters appear radical and pushes Kerry’s perceived position further to the Left. Even many who disagree with Bush do not find him evil or malicious. The Bush ad reveals some Kerry supporters to be mean-spirited, angry partisans, characters distinctively offensive to most Americans. That message is obvious.

The incredibly ingenious part of the Bush ad is that the Democratic and Left wing denunciations of Bush have the same cadence and pace as the MoveOn clips of Hitler. The Bush ads reverse the association of Nazis with Bush, making Kerry supporters appear with the same heated oratory, the same wild crowds moved by angry rhetoric, and the same bitter resentment of the Nazis. In a campaign ad jujitsu reverse move, this Bush ad succeeds in using MoveOn ads and the angry rhetoric of the Left against them.

The Bush camp must now be careful. The point has been made. Playing that ad too long could eventually backfire. Republicans do not need to be bringing images of Hitler into people’s living rooms. Now that the stage has been set, all the Bush team needs to do is follow Al Gore around with a film crew.

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