It’s just a long ad

IT’S JUST A LONG AD…. This evening in prime time, the Obama campaign will air a half-hour long ad, talking about Obama’s policy agenda in some detail. It’s already facing pushback from conservatives who think, well, it’s not quite clear what they think, but they’re not happy.

On MSNBC yesterday, far-right pundit Willie Geist said Obama’s ad reminded him of “the Soviet invasion,” because it “take[s] over the airwaves.” Yesterday afternoon, Elisabeth Hasselbeck called the Obama ad “repulsive.” (By the way, I don’t know who Hasselbeck is or why her political opinions are significant, but her complaint about Obama’s ad was Mark Halperin’s lead story late yesterday.)

Yes, Obama is obviously history’s greatest monster. He’s a presidential candidate who’s going to go on television to talk to voters about what he wants to do if elected. Instead of a 30-second spot filled with soundbites, Obama is going to offer depth and detail in a 30-minute program. Clearly, words like “repulsive” and comparisons to the USSR are the only logical conclusions to draw.

For crying out loud, it’s just a long ad. It’s not even unprecedented.

It will also have a live component, featuring Mr. Obama at a rally in Florida. The infomercial has been under production for weeks in the Virginia office of Mark Putnam, whose firm, Murphy-Putnam, is part of the Obama advertising team.

The program is to be shown on NBC, CBS, Fox, Univision, MSNBC and two cable networks that cater to African-Americans, BET and TV One. Ross Perot, the last presidential candidate to run similar programming, broadcast eight long infomercials to an average of 13 million viewers, with one of them getting 16.5 million viewers.

Mike Murphy, a former McCain confidant, noted that he’s encouraged the McCain campaign to do the exact same thing, and they probably would, if they could afford it.

For his part, McCain argued yesterday that Obama’s ad is anti-baseball, insisting it would bump back the World Series on Fox by 15 minutes. “No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I’m president,” McCain said yesterday in Pennsylvania. As it happens, McCain was, predictably, not telling the truth — a Fox Broadcasting executive told Ben Smith, “We didn’t push back the game at all,” adding that the network planned to trim the pre-game commentary.

That said, I suppose McCain has to say something about this. Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project, said, “John McCain’s only chance is to disqualify Barack Obama. He has seven days. Every day that people are talking about Barack Obama’s infomercial is a day that John McCain isn’t getting his message out.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.