Sunday, October 29, 2000

Campaign ads rated R (Ridiculous)

        John and Jane Q. Public of Cincinnati, Ohio, are serious people. They are, of course, not only registered to vote, but champing at the bit for nine more days to pass so they can march proudly into their polling places and cast the ballots that supplant the bullets of countries where freedom doesn't reign.

        And John and Jane don't do so blindly; they want to be informed citizens who carefully weigh the positions of the candidates and the political parties and make rational decisions on the impact the election will have on them, their children and their children's children.

        They are assisted in this noble endeavor by no end of
30-second television ads, sandwiched between segments of their favorite forms of entertainment, like the local news shows and Hollywood Squares.

        So far, in Cincinnati, they have seen:

        • A cartoon reindeer dancing across the screen on behalf of U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot.

        • The same Mr. Chabot's head stuck on a marionette.

        • An ad for Democratic county commission candidate Todd Portune starring GI Joe-type action figures.

        How, after all this, could they not be informed voters?

        And now, the Hamilton County Republican Party is offering to help as well, with its $200,000 TV ad campaign in which they try to save the bacon of County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, who is in a world of hurt for making every day Christmas Day for Bengals owner Mike Brown.

        The Republican ad campaign is linked with a new GOP Web site called Together, they form the GOP's attempt to turn Mr. Portune, a Cin cinnati city councilman, into the Michael Dukakis of Cincinnati politics.

        In the commercial, two actors, vainly trying to act as if they are husband and wife, are surfing the net when they come across

        The horrors they find there shock them (you know they are shocked because the thespians go bug-eyed): Mr. Portune wants to let “crooks” turn in their guns in exchange for a new pair of sneakers; he thinks teen curfews violate the constitutional rights of the Clearasil-laden punks; and, worst of all (here, the “wife” looks like

        she's about ready to vomit), he approves of gay marriages.

        You may wonder what, as we used to say back home, all of this has to do with the price of eggs.

        Not much. What it does have to do with is a sinking feeling down at GOP headquarters that their boy Bedinghaus could very well be done in at the polls by Republican voters.

        If you are a Democrat who could be convinced to vote for a Republican or an independent who votes for the best man or woman, this ad is not directed at you.

        It is directed at hard-core, conservative Republican voters. GOP polling shows many of party faithful are very upset with Mr. Bedinghaus over the stadium situation. If those Republicans end up voting for Mr. Portune, stick a fork in Commissioner Bedinghaus; he's done.

        So the GOP has to distract their attention by planting large horns on the side of Mr. Portune's head and handing him a pitchfork. So now, in addition to reindeer, marionettes and GI Joe, we have a devil in this campaign.

        Well, it is Halloween.



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