“I’ve seen the future, baby:
It is murder.”
— Leonard Cohen, “The Future”
In following news reports on the closing days of the Wisconsin recall race for governor, I was struck by this harsh ad (see video on the right) being run by incumbent Scott Walker’s campaign.
Part of the unprecented deluge of campaign spending that may end up keeping Walker in office — at least until the John Doe investigation catches up to him — the commercial is stark even by usual negative-ad standards, implicitly holding Democratic opponent Tom Barrett responsible for the domestic abuse of a two-year-old child.
Greg Sargent reports that “many have observed that the Walker attack ad featuring the two-year-old child is not the kind of spot a campaign runs if it’s extremely confident of winning,” but I’m not so sure that’s relevant. Restraint in pursuit of its goals has never been a right-wing hallmark, especially when they’re as a lavishly well-funded as they are now in the post-Citizens United world.
If anything, it’s probably a test case for ads that we’ll see everywhere in the fall, reversing the famous “Ashley’s Story” ad that Karl Rove and company cooked up for George Bush’s re-election. The formula is simple: grab the audience’s heartstrings by showing them a youngster, then state that the noble Republican will protect them… or, in Walker’s case, that the feckless Democrat won’t.
All the GOP needs to do is have their opposition-research teams dig up the appropriate flimsily-related anecdote, insert an ominous black-and-white photo of the Democrat, and add millions of dollars in purchased TV airtime.
It’s going to be ugly.