Friday, November 11, 2011

Let Loose the Dogs of TV

Let's pace ourselves. The ads for the 2012 Senate from MA race are just kindling in competing bonfires being heaped.

State and national GOP and wingers accept the now obvious, that Elizabeth Warren will go for the seat against incumbent Scott Brown. Following the Citizens United/Super PAC/money-is-free-speech boner, this is the election where will find out how stupid and destructive that SCOTUS decision was.

Both Brown and Warren already have support from well funded and often hidden snipers. There are tons of coverage on the new, nasty reality. You can also find lots of examples, which I won't bother to embed any of here. Head to YouTube and search for strings like Scott Brown oil or Elizabeth Warren OWS to find current ones. Fresh dirt for him is here and for her here.

Disclaimer: We chatted with Warren over at Left Ahead last month and the three of us liked her both personally and for her ideas and solutions.

Let's now consider what's likely to happen with attack ads for these candidates.

First note that Brown has been in office over a year and one-half. Voters, should they bother, can look to his votes and statements, his record. Having never held elective office, Warren has the advantage/disadvantage of presenting what she would have done and would do.

The advantage here definitely looks to be hers. Brown has been a showboat from the beginning. He bragged about being in a pivotal spot, able to block or allow to pass any bill. During his tenure, legislation has been cumbersome, ineffective, and with negative effects on the economy and other big areas. Instead, he could have picked a couple key issues, as wise Senators are wont to, and led bipartisan efforts. Then he could have fairly claimed leadership and national interest — very good reasons for reelection.

She is left with his weakness and her forte, ideas. He speaks in political clichés and generalities. She likely has 20 or 30 IQ points on him, but is no Utopian or limited theoretician. She has the decided advantage of conceiving of and bringing to life the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is much needed, very appreciated, and in strong contrast to anything Brown ever did on state or national levels.

Her weakness is not that she can be aligned with some aims of OWS. Rather, she so far has spoken largely of rescuing and revivifying the American middle-class. Those folk not coincidentally are the majority of us and of voters. On the trail, she'll have to respond to other themes, such as foreign policy.

So far, the winger attacks have seemed desperate. Now there is her statement that she set the intellectual foundation that helped spawn OWS. Previously, they failed in trying to portray her banter with me on Left Ahead about being called a hick in MA as some insult to rural voters. Well, that backfired. Not only was that self-depreciating bit plain to the 10K-plus who heard the YouTube outtakes, it clearly was not what they wanted to trick people into thinking. They also drove over 1,000 so far to listen to the whole show with her, quite likely getting her new supporters. She could use more attack-ad enemies that politically clumsy.

Warren has powerful, detailed solutions to big problems. Her introduction into the race suddenly elevated the dialog beyond any ability to propose or debate that Brown so far has exhibited.

However, Brown has a predictable winger strength. He speaks in those clichés and generalities. Like Presidents Reagan and Bush the Lesser, he offers reassuring, if disingenuous, messages that don't require voters to think. For those who want guns-and-butter and everything-will-be-OK messages, Brown will be ready.

Let's also not overlook the gender factor. MA is at the bottom of states in terms of electing women to statewide office, much less sending them to the U.S. Senate.

Moreover, even here in the allegedly liberal land, STRONG + SMART + FEMALE = SCARY CANDIDATE. Her election would mean a breakthrough for the commonwealth.

As these attack ads proliferate, one factor to watch is the local v. out-of-state one. Voters here are largely provincial. As Southerners are wont to ask, "Who are your people?," Bay Staters favor those born and raised and still living in one MA town. Likewise, they are quick to ask of candidates, "How much of the campaign money is local?"

The latter is kablooey for the first time now. Following the unlimited-money thingummy, we'll see ads and cash flowing largely from out there. You can be sure the MA GOP and wingers will whinge about her support, while they will be even more guilty of the perceived sin of out-of-state funding.

Here, the slight majority of voters are unenrolled in any party. They feign independence and love being wooed. The ads will be for them.

Even flat-out lies by Warren defamers are not likely to benefit Brown with the unenrolled and undecided. The wingers, self-identified social conservatives, Republicans, and even those who demand a man in office made up their minds. If they are swayed at all, it will come from the likely outcome of debates where the empty barn coat creaks and flaps like a barn door.

What a great use of technology in a science-fiction sense if we could go about our lives while fast forwarding all the attack ads until next fall's election. At this time, I'm more delighted than ever that I watch almost no TV.


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