Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 37 Demon Sheep

Dear Mr. President,

Do you think Carly Fiorina's Demon Sheep ad was only approved for the attention it would generate? I truly hope it does not succeed in actually electing her. This reminds me of the ads Senator McCain ran against you in 2008- the Paris Hilton ad, and, (my personal favorite,) the "Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ" ad that featured your campaign's winged logo rising from the red sea.

Television has taken political sensationalism to a whole new level. In my own state of Washington, groups opposing Christine Gregoire ran an ad featuring a man with a can of gasoline igniting a pile of money. This ad continued to run, even after an employee at my college, the University of Washington, doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of hundreds of students in the middle of campus.

What is the acceptable threshold? I understand that political ads are the unfortunate by-product of the first amendment, and that the people running the ads have every right to be as distasteful as they wish. Neither John McCain nor Governor Gregoire's opponent, Dino Rossi, were successful in their campaigns. Their ads may or may not have been a factor in their defeat, but I doubt very much that architects of political ads to come will see these failures as a reason for caution or even dignity. Fiorina's campaign certainly didn't. Maybe Television isn't the place to look for an increase in the level of political discourse in this country, but, as it is where most campaign money is spent and, supposedly, most voters are reached, maybe it isn't an unreasonable place to start.

I hope that, in the midterms this fall and in campaigns to come, Democrats air ads that are reasonable, measured, and respectful in tone. I hope that, as the leader of the Democratic Party, you encourage them to follow your campaign's example. This isn't to say I think all campaigns should be exclusively positive, or that attack ads don't have their place, but insulting the intelligence of one's audience with frightening music or demon sheep is probably something both parties should be above. (I'll probably need to be reminded of this if Sarah Palin succeeds in securing the GOP nomination.)

Respectfully yours,


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