Friday, September 24, 2010

"Mourning in America"

Kathleen Parker in the WaPo on a clever take-off of an old ad...

Sometimes when everyone is shouting, only a whisper can be heard.

This is the thinking behind a powerful new anti-Barack Obama ad that seeks to tap not the nation's anger but its sadness.

"Mourning in America," which is hitting the national airwaves, is a poignant takeoff of Ronald Reagan's iconic "Morning in America" ad. Whatever one's political affiliation, it is impossible to watch this new ad and not feel, well, sad.

Brilliant. Everyone's angry. But anger is cheap and tired...Americans are also sad. The always bountiful America seems on the edge of famine, spiritual if not literal, though the latter seems all too possible as jobs disappear and businesses close.

The ad, cites the latest unemployment and foreclosure statistics, and other facts that illustrate the rupture of the social contract -- the idea that our children could, should and would do better than we. Or at least as well.

Echoing closely the text of Reagan's ad, the new one is shot in darker, more somber light. Here's Reagan:

This is a smart ad, created by Strategic Perception's Fred Davis, one of the GOP's favorite admen....

The ad is not subtle in blaming current circumstances on Obama....Whether this ad succeeds remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the more relevant question is: Is it true? Is Obama responsible for our near-dire circumstances?

I have never been a fan of presidents who place blame on their predecessors or who accept credit for events that couldn't have been engineered so soon in their tenure. Politicians will always massage the data to tell the story their way. Bill Clinton's happy economy surely owed some credit to Reagan. George W. Bush's ill fortunes surely had at least some of their roots in Clinton's lack of attentiveness. Obama clearly inherited a load of fertilizer, but his policies also have exacerbated those effects....


At September 25, 2010 at 10:56 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

Concerning blame for the economy, I believe about two-thirds of the jobs that were lost in the recession had already been lost when Obama took office. But Obama will assume more of the blame if employment does not recover.

However, the timing on the "Mourning in America" ad campaign may be off. The exact parallel would be if the ad ran two years from now; Reagan's "Morning in America" ads ran not before his first midterm election but instead as he ran for re-election. But the rub is that in two years, the economy may well have staged a strong enough recovery that Obama will be able to run his own version of "Morning in America" on his way to re-election. I gather this is what some Republicans now fear.

At September 26, 2010 at 12:45 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

A few thoughts:

-Obama has continued and extended many of Bush's fiscal policies, so implicitly he (and Bush) are two peas in a pod and both deserve blame.

-Obama said he would fix/improve things with his (flawed) policies. That's the problem with trying to take credit; you get the blame if/when you fail.

-Your point on the timing of the two ads is spot on. Reagan did and Obama will take a beating in their first mid-term election. Both inherited large problems and both took decisive steps. Reagan (and Volcker) had solutions that worked. It's not at all clear that Obama can duplicate that record. Perhaps he'll get a hand from the GOP, as Clinton did after 1994. (I think that's reasonably likely-- although less so than with Clinton.) If not, it'll be ugly for him and the Dems in 2012 as well.


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