Monthly Archives: September 2008

Friday Time-Eater: Campaign Ads 1952-2008

The Museum of the Moving Image has a very cool site where you can view dozens of presidential campaign television advertisements from the last 56 years.

One thing you notice right away from even the earliest spots is that  attack ads have been around since the very advent of television. One difference is that candidates used to have the guts to deliver the attacks themselves, like Ike in this 1952 ad: (Sorry, WordPress won’t let me embed flash video from the site)

http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1952/bus-driver

I also think some of the Lyndon Johnson ads unleashed against Goldwater make today’s spots look tame. If you’re a political junkie, like I am, you can easily lose a couple hours at this site, especially on a slow September Friday.  It’s also sort of comforting to remember that the nation has survived other knock-down, drag-out election fights.

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Palin says Cedar Rapids is Grand

So what if Sarah Palin called us “Grand Rapids?” I, for one, am big enough to cut her some slack. I’m also afraid that Todd Palin will run me over with a snow machine if I don’t.

Palin just spoke at a town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., last night. You can’t expect a candidate to know which unpretentious, hard-working, patriotic small town she’s in at any given moment. They’re all the backbone of America, that’s what’s important.

And there are many more Grand Rapids in this country than there are Cedar Rapids, according to 47 seconds of intense research.

Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, Minnesota and Ohio are each home to a Grand Rapids. But I could only find Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Cedar Rapids Nebraska.

And with tight races in Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan, it’s little wonder that Grand Rapids is on her mind. Iowa’s looking pretty blue these days, if you believe the polls, and Nebraska can’t get any more red, so if you forget a city or two here or there, what’s the harm?

Besides it’s tough to run for veep and still serve as the reform governor of Arkansas. So good luck, Sally. All of us here in Grand Rapids are behind you and what’s-his-name 100 percent.

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McCain Flood Tour?

Veep nominee Sarah Palin says during her CR remarks at this hour that the GOP team is going to look at flood damage after all.

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Tough Job

I noticed in this morning’s story about the latest developments in Agriprocessors’ legal woes that plant manager Sholom Rubashkin is being represented by F. Montgomery Brown, an attorney from West Des Moines. Brown is the same attorney who represents local rental baron Bob Miell, who goes on trial for mail and tax fraud and other charges in federal court in January.

He’s got his work cut out for him, clearly. At least it’s lucrative work.

Brown has taken on plenty of tough cases. He was on the legal team that helped State Sen. Matt McCoy beat a federal extortion charge last year. But he couldn’t save pot-dealing former Wilton Mayor Dick Summy from a federal jail term.

I’m not knocking him for representing any of these clients, mind you. Everybody deserves good representation. It’s the American way.

FYI, he is no relation to C. Montgomery Burns, Springfield nuclear power baron.

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Should McCain Tour the Flood Zone?

From the AP:

CEDAR RAPIDS – Some Cedar Rapids officials are grumbling about Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s decision to hold an airport rally Thursday but skip a tour of large areas of the city still reeling from summer flooding.

Some said McCain is only the latest official to ignore Cedar Rapids’ pain.

“That’s exactly what’s happening,” said Lee Clancey, a Republican former mayor of the city who is coordinating flood recovery efforts. “I don’t know if his advance team is making him aware that there are significant needs here.”

McCain’s schedule calls for him to land at the Eastern Iowa Airport about five miles outside of Cedar Rapids, hold a rally at a private flying service with running mate Sarah Palin, then wing off to his next event.

 Now, to be fair, “some Cedar Rapids officials” apparently amounts to Clancey and Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, who isn’t grumbling as much as he simply wishes McCain had time for a tour. Clancey is referred to as a Republican, which is technically true, but she did endorse Al Gore in 2000. She supported Hillary Clinton in the primary race this year.

Anyway, the question is, should McCain have scheduled at least a short tour?

I understand his time crunch, but the answer is a clear yes. Can you imagine McCain dropping in for a campaign event just outside Houston or New Orleans this week and skipping a damage tour? Wouldn’t happen, so why skip it here?

Sure, McCain probably won’t even be around to vote on disaster relief. But he’s still sending a bad symbolic message. As Clancey argues, it feeds the persistent notion around these parts that the country has moved on and forgotten us, even as folks still struggle to recover.

I’m not saying McCain doesn’t care about flood victims. I’m saying his campaign bungled an opportunity to show he cares.

He still has time to change his schedule. Don’t be surprised if he does.

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Culver Comes a Callin’

Gov. Chet Culver stopped by The Gazette for an editorial board chat this afternoon. Here’s the Chet Notes version, like Cliffs Notes, only with less detail.

SPECIAL SESSION — Culver insisted, impatiently at times, that he’s heroically using his executive authority to shift $40 million from the state budget into housing and business assistance, making a special session unnecessary. He says his top priority is getting money into people’s hands fast, and he can do that without waiting for lawmakers to arrive and vote.

Three branches of government can be so cumbersome, really.

“What people need is assistance,” Culver said. “They know, as of Friday, when we announced this, that hope is on the way.”

So what about the local leaders who hoped for a special session? Culver said Lt. Gov. Patty Judge met with some of them on Sunday and he claims they’re now cool with his solo approach.

Culver also insisted that it would be a mistake for lawmakers to come back and appropriate state money now for infrastructure repairs – bridges, roads etc. –  before we’ve squeezed every drop of money out of the feds. The feds might give us less, he contends.

In short, Culver said he can handle this disaster, for now, without the Legislature, just trust him. And stop questioning him. At one point he snapped “What is it you don’t understand?”

GAS TAX — Culver said it’s “too early to tell” on whether a gas tax hike, or any other tax hike, might be needed to help pay for recovery or for government functions sapped by disasters both natural and economic. These are not the sort of questions you answer before Election Day.

ECONOMY — Culver said, emphatically, he has no worries that ongoing economic tumult will impact Iowa. He didn’t explain how Iowa might untie itself from the nation’s sinking banking and investment sectors, but you have to admire his optimism.  He said the next president needs to clean up the “crisis.”

HEATING HELP — Culver said some pieces of flood aid can be used by those impacted by flooding to pay heating costs this winter. There are worries that Congress won’t provide Iowa with enough money to meet an expected increase in applications for heating help.

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Economicane vs. Hurricane

In a constant effort to connect the big stories shaping your world, it’s Hurricane vs. Economicane:

Hurricane — Gulf Coast residents forced to flee, carrying boxes of their prized belongings to safety.

Economicane — Investment bankers forced to flee, carrying boxes of desk nicknacks to poverty.

Hurricane — Government implores affected citizens to evacuate. Please, Don’t ride it out.

Economicane — Government implores affected citizens to stay put. Please, ride it out.

Hurricane — Swirling Doppler blobs.

Economicane — Plunging Dow charts.

Hurricane — Survivors praying on rooftops.

Ecoomicane — Investors praying on ledges.

Hurricane — Dazed locals sifting through smashed, worthlesss trailers.

Economicane — Dazed financiers sifting through smashed, worthless portfolios.

Hurricane — Reporters in pricey rain gear struggle to explain what’s happening.

Economicane — Reporters in pricey suits struggle to explain what’s happening.

Hurricane — Don’t worry, my friends, FEMA’s doing a heckuva job.

Economicane — Don’t worry, my friends, the fundamentals are sound.

Hurricane — Dang. Home Depot just ran out of plywood.

Economicane — Dang. Lehman Bros. just ran out of money.

Hurricane — Government flies weather experts into the eye of the storm.

Economicane — Government flies lawyers into the eye of the storm.

Hurricane — Bloated, oversized windstorm leaves behind a big mess.

Economicane — Bloated, overpaid CEOs leave behind a big mess.

 Hurricane — Deputies go house to house, looking for survivors

Economicane — Deputies go house to house, handing out foreclosure notices.

Add your own.

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