Thursday, November 17, 2011

Perry's Ad Hurls Some Old Fashioned Kryptonite

Socialism is an undeniable part of American history.  The socialism-capitalism dichotomy was the predicate of the rhetoric of the Cold War.  The McCarthyite movement of the 1950s sought to dismantle the socialist "enterprise" in America by persecuting Soviet sympathizers.  Since the time of the Palmer Raids and the First Red Scare, the term "socialist" has been an epithet hurled at politicians and citizens alike.  It was caustic.  The term was effective in neutralizing political opponents and then ostracizing them from mainstream America.  To be labeled a socialist was, after all, a crime of the first order; a commitment to socialist principles was seen as a secular sin, a fall from Washington's grace.

Just this week, that rugged, manly Texan, Rick Perry--who, as it happens, is also a GOP candidate for president--decided to focus his media advertisements at the current President, Barack Obama.  Gov. Perry's criticisms of his fellow GOP candidates have largely fallen on deaf ears, so his campaign decided to take aim at the one man distrusted by the GOP establishment and its supporters: President Obama.  The advertisement is below:

Of course, the ad starts by providing a brief clip of President Obama, during which he says, "We've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the past couple of decades."  First, what is so controversial about that line?  More to the point, why is a Republican candidate taking issue with it?  The Conservative Republicans have historically criticized wasteful government spending and praised individual responsibility.  Americans have possessed an insatiable need to "charge, charge, charge."  They have lived far beyond their means by adopting the "Gospel of Plastic."  The work ethic, for many, has been nonexistent.  President Obama provided a tepid rendering of the last thirty years of American domestic consumer spending.  The maxim could easily be rendered as: All consumption and little work.  The message seems decidedly conservative--reflecting a conservative view of the world.  The Perry Campaign's decision to fixate on that one line seems oddly counter-productive.

The ad ends with Gov. Perry accusing President Obama of advancing "socialist policies" which "are bankrupting America."  And there you go: Perry dispenses with that decades' old, somewhat shelf stable "kryptonite."  To be sure, Perry is not original in this; most GOP politicians have criticized Obama's domestic policies, specifically his spending initiatives.  A few pundits have even labeled Obama a "socialist" or "fascist" or that mutant hybrid of "socialist-fascist."  Perry's ad, however, seeks to summarily dismiss Obama and his administration by noting that they are defined by "socialist policies."  So--America is not lazy but Obama is socialist.  If you, dearest blog reader of mine, manage to take away one thing from that thirty-two second ad of torture it should be that "America is not lazy but Obama is a socialist."

Perry's advocacy of a balanced budget amendment is surely supported by this blogger, but the president serves no role in amending the U.S. Constitution.  He can advocate for an amendment but he has no vote in the process.  And, the idea of a balanced budget amendment is not new.  Critics of Federal spending have been advocating for a balanced budget amendment for decades.  Of course Perry would advocate for something he cannot implement!  BTW: what were the three departments Perry would cut???  Spending is most certainly a serious issue but where was Perry when President Bush was recklessly spending?  Oh, right, Perry was silent.  And "THAT'S PATHETIC."

One of the ad's wonderful gems was Perry's line of "that's pathetic"--in response to Obama calling Americans lazy.  Hmm.  Is that really a tactful way to dissent?  

This ad is really just a distraction.  Perry's campaign boat has been letting in water for nearly a month, and his team seems incapable of plugging up the hole.  Each debate reveals Perry's lack of discipline and competence, and these ads fail to court additional grassroots supporters or major donors.  The craziness of his personality and the absurdity of his campaign are enough to mention him in discussion.

"Socialist" was once the "kryptonite" of a politician or a political campaign and, while it is still not the best label to possess, it is largely devoid of its previous substance. 

No comments:

Post a Comment