Friday, October 15, 2010

Corporate Ads

I'd like to find a copy of this ad attacking Ron Kind(WI-03) ran in the Madison Market on CBS affiliate during 11:00PM CST show, in the first or second adbreak

I just saw this ad, the main complaint of which is that Ron Kind (WI-03) allowed the government to spend money wastefully. Specifically, they list some boilerplate about how the stimulus money was a waste because it didn't turn around the unemployment momentum, then a pure pork project: replacing broken windows on a building owned by the federal government.

In my neighborhood, when there's a building on your block with gaping holes in the windows, we call it a nuisance. Dilapidated buildings depreciate property values in the entire neighborhood. If that building were on my block, I would ask the owner to fix it up. If not to inhabit it, then at least to dress it up well enough to ensure that it will sell quickly. The incumbent's position is "fix buildings". He probably voted for a bill which included a line item like "Federal building maintenance- Replace Windows;" now he's being attacked for it. That's silly, because the logical outcome of this ad is that the challenger in the race would prefer to "not fix buildings." Who would put up such an obviously bankrupt ad?

Well, turned out it's one of those old post-Citizens United corporate speech money holes. I'm not really sure I got its exact name correctly because I can't find it on the web, and the voice said it really quickly. I think it was, "National Foundation of Independent Businesses." I found a National Federation Independent Businesses but I don't think it was it.

I was looking for someone to blame for this ad that mocks the essence of living with a government that does simple maintenance. Of course the donors and strategists are shielded from review. It would be nearly impossible to figure out exactly who paid for this ad or who approved it. Instead of being to take my complaint to them, the total anonymity guaranteed by the Congress which refused to pass campaign finance law to fill in the gap left by the Roberts Court. What does this situation do to our value of political speech? I think political speech includes the ability to discover whom is talking to you if for no other reason than because you can address your response to them.

But in reality, does it matter? Everyone who hears the ad just assumes that it's made by the person who is attacking Ron Kind. Since challenger Dan Kapanke is already spending his own campaign cash attacking Kind, there's no good reason to assume its not just another attack ad from the deep well that is the Dan Kapanke lobbyist slush fund.

In this environment, do negative ads still work? Of course they do. They might just also create a backlash when people see them so often. Anybody who has ever made phone calls in a heavily targeted race knows that too many touches can make people... well, touchy.

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