In less than a week, we can go back to watching television safely.
For the last few weeks, as election day nears, we’ve been bombarded by campaign commercials. It’s been a never-ending salvo from candidates as they continue to fire broadsides at their opponents.
Some candidates have stuck to the high road. With little presence from his opponents — who have been practically invisible — Johnny Isakson hasn’t resorted to lobbing garbage their way. And why bother? Why bring attention to an opponent nobody seems to know exists?
The same can’t be said for the governor’s race. Roy Barnes, former one-term governor, has posted a mix of affirmative and negative ads. Nathan Deal, the former Congressman who won a free-for-all for the Republican nomination, had stayed mostly on the tack of what he would do for Georgia. During a stop in Rincon earlier this month, Deal boasted of his hands-off approach to negative ads and how that tactic resonated with members of the electorate.
In the last couple of weeks, as Nov. 2 creeps closer, the gloves are being wriggled off. Deal is blasting away at Barnes’ record as governor, and I’m surprised he hasn’t jumped on Barnes for his handling — or rather, mishandling — of the DaimlerChrysler project at the Pooler megasite. How has that one slipped by the Deal campaign?
One of the more manipulative ads is the one the Barnes campaign is running, showing Deal walking away as questions are being shouted his way about his business dealings and his ethical problems. True, they are legitimate questions of someone running for the state’s highest office.
However, you don’t see anyone actually posing those questions to a retreating Deal. You hear the queries posed in a voice over as if the questioners are actually part of the scene.
But are they?
It’s the kind of commercial that assumes the worst about an opponent and likewise the worst of the public — that they actually are gullible enough to believe the people asking the questions are in the same room, chasing down the candidate.
What’s also puzzling is how candidates continue to rely upon attack ads, even as the public has stated its great distaste for them. And yet, despite evidence to the contrary, negative ads continue to roll out.
About 18 years ago, I witnessed how a negative ad can absolutely blow up in a candidate’s face. In the sheriff’s race in Liberty County, the incumbent sheriff finished third in the primary behind a longtime community member, who was also a retired postal worker and a recreation coach, and an assistant district attorney.
The assistant district attorney’s campaign manager came into our office to place a half-page ad. Most of it extolled the candidate’s accomplishments and virtues — former police officer, law school grad, effective prosecutor. Qualities good enough to be a sheriff, yes?
But the rest of the ad lit a fuse that went off at the polls. After listing the candidate’s qualifications — and stating he was qualified to be sheriff — the remainder of the ad said the other guy was qualified to deliver the mail.
What was a close race turned out to be a lopsided victory, and the former postman was delivered a huge victory that kept him in office for 18 years until he passed away in office.
One of the most interesting races is one across the river. There’s been plenty of attack ads in that one, as a former Marine and Iraq veteran goes up against an incumbent who’s best known as the “you lie” guy.
Now, the opponent is prefacing his negative ads with saying the incumbent isn’t a bad guy. But….
Yet there’s one thing you never hear the challenger mention during all his ads that extol his military service or what he would do in Congress (which in and of itself is laughable. You don’t do anything. You would be one of 435 in the House of Representatives. Your agenda ain’t going far in term one) or as he assails Mr. “You Lie” Guy (and I still don’t know why said incumbent isn’t using that footage to his great advantage).
There’s no indication of what his party affiliation is in any of his campaign spots. You have to pay attention to the incumbent’s commercials to get an idea.