Jewish World Review August 10, 2004 / 25 Menachem-Av, 5764

John M. Baer

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Consumer Reports

Let's can this mush and have some real ads | Hope you see what's going on.

The race for president is dissolving into mush.

Vacuous new TV ads produced and aired for millions and millions and millions of dollars (what a waste!) offer the following:

A Bush spot shows warm images, people smiling, people hugging, flags, firemen and such, while soothing music plays and a female announcer with a comforting voice says Americans are "standing up against terrorism and working to grow our economy."


Seems to me lots of Americans are scared silly by repeated terrorism warnings that come at politically convenient times and are working multiple jobs because of our economy.

Think the ad has anything to do with polling data?

A new Newsweek poll shows less than half the electorate (48 percent) likes Bush on "terrorism and homeland security" and less than that (42 percent) likes him on the economy.

Yet the ad asks, "What gives us optimism and hope?"

It answers, "Freedom, faith, families and sacrifice."

I'm not even sure what that means.

I assume it's a knockoff of the 20-year-old "it's morning in America" approach used successfully by Ronald Reagan since, well, it worked then and Reagan's dead and people feel a lot more kindly toward him than when he was alive.

But, listen, the Bush ad's an empty sop and an insult to voters. For this the Bush campaign is spending a reported $7 million a week.

And John Kerry?

His campaign is off the air because campaign finance laws designed to improve the political process restricts spending after a candidate is nominated.

This would be the same law that allows other groups to spend like drunks at a roulette table during the same time period. (Ah, reform.)

So the Democratic National Committee and the Media Fund, an "independent" group run by Kerry's former campaign chief, are spending a reported $8.5 million a week.

I saw a pro-Kerry ad that was nothing but clips from his speech at the Democratic National Convention where, as you might recall, the message was strength and unity and I'm-not-a-weenie.

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The ad has lots of applause, nice wide shots and Kerry saying things such as, "I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president."

Yeah, see, that's sorta what the job entails.

The president is supposed to defend the country. Saying you'll do so is like telling a job interviewer, "If you hire me, I will come to work."

Kerry also says if we do some things like have "a strong military" and "lead strong alliances," we get to tell the terrorists, "You will lose and we will win."

Uh. As opposed to?

Think Kerry's pitch is poll-driven? The same Newsweek poll puts him even lower than Bush (43 percent) on terrorism and security.

But here's my beef. The country's been through a lot. The 9/11 attacks, the war, the economy. National leadership is more important now than at any time since World War II. This campaign shouldn't be like any other campaign.

Put the platitudes, pretty pictures and empty rhetoric aside. Let's hear some specifics, some detail on actual issues. I mean other than both sides saying they'll cut the federal deficit in half within four or five years without saying how.

Come on. Let's see some evidence of respect for voters.

John Baer is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Philadelphia Daily News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services