Greetings, earthlings, and other denizens of the West.
This is the first installment of what will be an ongoing High Country News roundup of Western campaign commercials. I have scoured the interwebs, and picked out a few that are particularly great in their own special ways.
In today's episode, "If you can't say something nice, put it on television," we celebrate that venerated American tradition: the attack ad!
Negative campaigning in U.S. politics is as old as…U.S. politics. In the early days of our venerable republic, disagreements between the Federalists and their so-obviously-not-self-named foes, the Anti-Federalists, turned downright treasonous, with each faction struggling to pack the officer corps of the then-small American military with political allies in case of open rebellion. Thomas Jefferson's critics didn't pull punches when they basically accused him of hating God.
But the wonders of modern technology have given us a new generation of this glorious ode to mediocrity, this high-speed race to the bottom, this commitment to rejoicing in the lesser of two evils.
Republican Carly Fiorina has cooked up some truly fantastic attacks on Barbara Boxer in their race for one of California's Senate seats. In this elegantly simple ad, Fiorina's deep-voiced narrator just disses on Boxer for three and a half minutes – while Boxer's head swells into a decapitated behemoth and floats ominously over the landscape. Fiorina's dig against her erstwhile opponent in the Republican primary is truly a work of genius. Just watch and "learn" as Tom Campbell TURNS INTO A DEMONIC SHEEP.
Republican John McCain has a fantastic faux-infomercial takedown of J.D. Hayworth in their hard-fought republican primary battle in the race for Arizona's senate seat – a testament to the dignity of 21st-century American politics. And J.D. Hayworth uses a modern day classic sea monster commercial to hit McCain.
Republicans seem to be doing a much better job in providing fodder for blogs about negative campaign ads, but Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff has a pretty great slap for his opponent in the Democratic primary. Romanoff's campaign has apparently unearthed footage of a "candid" discussion between three suspiciously emblematic business executives – and one Big Oil CEO (with a very strange beard) isn't pleased with…you guessed it: Andrew Romanoff.
In Nevada, it seems the Tea Party found a template for local personal injury attorney commercials, and used it to make sure everyone knows that Republican primary candidate Scott Ashjian is NOT welcome in their clubhouse.
Sue Lowden, Sharron Angle's former opponent in Nevada's Republican primary to decide who got to steal Harry Reid's
birthright senate seat produced a delightful – and nearly pornographic – advertisement for the top-notch spas in Nevada's state prison. Guess whom she credits for getting Nevada's prisoners massages? (Yeah … but you'll never guess who else. I'll give you a hint: it begins with "The Ch" and ends with "urch of Scientology").
Please pass along links and leads to other Western campaign commercials that make you feel all warm and fuzzy – or nauseated – inside, particularly if they are the doings of Democrats, who are not yet holding their own in the mud slinging ring this year, or if they come from local campaigns. See a funny ad for the Dogcatcher election in your home town? We want it!
That's all for now. And folks, remember, as that highly esteemed (drunken) statesman Winston Churchill once reminded us, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.