‘On their side’

‘ON THEIR SIDE’…. About two weeks ago, hot on the heels of Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) public apology to BP, the DNC unveiled a television ad, urging Republicans to “stop apologizing to Big Oil.” Four days later, the DNC released another spot, tying together several Republicans and their collective efforts to put oil companies’ interests above the public’s.

The spots weren’t bad, and for ads being thrown together quickly, they got the job done. But the ads weren’t especially memorable, either. By late last week, the DNC had a more compelling message, but it was a “web video,” not a televised ad.

To its credit, the DNC considered public feedback. The result is a video, called “On Their Side,” that strikes me as the most compelling to date. As the DNC’s Greg Greene said yesterday, “When Republicans in Congress head home during the Fourth of July recess, voters in their districts need to know where they stand: with big oil, health insurers and Wall Street.”

The spot hammers home one of the stronger themes available to Democrats this year: on the major policy disputes of the day, Republicans are on the wrong side of the fight. On energy, as Barton helped demonstrate, the GOP is on the side of the oil companies. On health care, as Mitt Romney helped demonstrate, the GOP is on the side of the health care companies. On Wall Street reform, as Michael Steele helped demonstrate, the GOP is on the side of the banks and the industry that nearly destroyed the global economy.

The ad’s tagline: “Republicans: This is how they would govern.” It seems like a safe bet you’ll be hearing this quite a bit, far more than even the “party of no” line that dominated Democratic rhetoric last year.

In the larger context, it’s worth noting that a vulnerable incumbent party, facing broad challenges, tends to want to localize elections. Dems this year seem to be doing the opposite, which strikes me as wise — the more the elections are nationalized, the more local Republican candidates can be connected to the larger trend of the GOP siding with powerful interests over the public good.