Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Campaign Videos and Humor

When I was a kid, like in the Clinton years when I was in my thirties, campaign ads ran on television. Where else would they run? And only the candidates, the parties, and well funded organizations like the NRA and AFL-CIO could afford to make them.

Today, anyone can make a campaign ad and run it on YouTube or some other Internet website. Those who see it have viewed it voluntarily. As the good ones get passed around, the size of the viewership is in some way a measure of the message. Also, the ad is not limited to 30 seconds, so you can develop an argument and say more.

Here are two exceptional videos running on YouTube. (I still have not figured out how to make a video screen image appear in my blog post like everyone else can do.)

"Dear Mr. Obama" runs 1:56, has had over 5 million viewers (that's a lot) and features a young veteran respectfully defending our military commitment to Iraq. It features a moving and unexpected twist at the end.

"Dear Mr. Obama II: Economics 101" is an imaginative, economically well-informed, and eloquent explanation of why Sen. Obama's policy proposals would bankrupt the country, or at least would revive the use of the "misery index" that we used under Jimmy Carter's disastrous presidency. That one is 4:20 and has had over 45,000 viewers.

Finally...well, this is not an ad, but a Saturday Night Live sketch that is purportedly "A Non-partisan Message from Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton." Tina Fey has you wondering for a second if it is really Palin up there. Amy Poehler does Hillary. Palin: "Tonight we are crossing party lines to address the now very ugly role that sexism is playing in the campaign." Clinton: "...an issue which I am frankly surprised to hear people suddenly care about!" They portray Palin as a beautiful ditz, but otherwise sincere and free of partisan animosity. They portray Hillary as an embittered, power hungry shrew. If that isn't a formula for great late night comedy, WHAT IS?

Finally, as if McCain-Palin weren't doing well enough on their own, the Obama-Biden camp seems to be doing everything they can to boost their opponents toward victory in November. In this ad, called "Still," the Obama campaign tries to depict John McCain as "out of touch" with ordinary Americans because he can't email. This recalls George Bush's surprise when he discovered supermarket checkout scanners during the 1992 campaign and how the Clinton campaign used it for the same purpose. But Jonah Goldberg tells us that McCain cannot use a keyboard without great pain on account of the disfigurement he suffered at the hands of his North Vietnamese prison wardens. Perhaps next they'll go after his patriotism for not being able to salute, and paint him as un-American for not being able to throw a baseball.

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