Great production values, dumb message

GREAT PRODUCTION VALUES, DUMB MESSAGE…. One of this week’s most talked about television ads is a 63-second spot from a far-right group called Citizens Against Government Waste. It’s extremely slick, but what it has in style it lacks in honesty, substance, and basic understanding of recent history.

For those of you who can’t watch clips from your work computers, the “ad” (whether it’s actually going to air anywhere is unclear) purports to show a university-style classroom in Beijing in 2030. We see by way of subtitles that a professor tells his students why “great nations fall,” pointing to Ancient Greeks, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the United States. All four, we’re told, turned their backs on their “principles.” The U.S. “tried to tax and spend itself out of a great recession,” including “enormous so-called ‘stimulus’ spending,” changing the health care system, “government takeover of private industries,” and “crushing debt.”

The professor, turning smug, tells his students that China owned most of America’s debt, which is why Americans now “work for” the Chinese. The students chuckle at those foolish Americans.

This is so blisteringly dumb, it’s hard to even know where to start.

I suppose the most glaring problem is with the premise that those rascally Democrats destroyed America by believing in progressive policy solutions. Putting aside the fact that Recovery Act really did help the economy enormously, James Fallows added that the ad is “hilariously wrong” given the Chinese context: “The ad has the Chinese official saying that America collapsed because, in the midst of a recession, it relied on (a) government stimulus spending, (b) big changes in its health care systems, and (c) public intervention in major industries — all of which of course, have been crucial parts of China’s (successful) anti-recession policy.”

If only Citizens Against Government Waste appreciated current events as much as production values.

What’s more, if this right-wing group that created the ad were so concerned about debt and deficits, why complain about a health care reform package that reduces budget shortfalls? Indeed, why hasn’t this group gone after Republicans for adding $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years, refusing to pay for wars and a Medicare expansion?

For that matter, literally right now Republicans are demanding an additional $4 trillion in tax cuts, all of which would be paid for by borrowing, largely through the Chinese. Where’s the Citizens Against Government Waste campaign against the GOP tax plan that would, apparently, hasten our national demise and enslave us to China?

I also love the idea of a Chinese professor blasting the U.S. for “government takeovers of private industries.” Yeah, the Chinese wouldn’t know anything about that. Obama rescued American auto manufacturers and prevented a collapse of our manufacturing industry, but never mind all that, says the silly conservative activist group.

I can appreciate the spot is representative of misguided Tea Party-style fantasies, and many conservatives may even find this silliness persuasive. I suppose the moral of the story, then, is that the left needs to figure out a way to make reality look as slick as deceptive far-right propaganda.