“I got a six-figure check for separating twins / I got a [bleep] like that for putting them in.”
By now you have heard of Ben Carson’s rap ad, which is playing on urban radio stations across the southeast and in waiting rooms throughout hell. You can listen to it here, or just wait to hear it bumping from a Buick Lucerne. It’s possible Carson should not have made a rap ad. The circumstances that led him to do so seem fortuitous: self-described “Republican Christian rapper” Aspiring Mogul, aka Robert Donaldson, sent a song to Carson’s campaign manager after seeing the biopic Gifted Hands. The Carson campaign put Asp-Mo’s song on its Facebook page, and from there it was a logical step to collaborating on a rapping campaign spot that goes like this:
Vote and support Ben Carson / for our next president to be awesome. / If we want to get America back on track, / we gotta vote Ben Carson, a matter of fact.
Those are the two couplets by Aspiring Mogul that made it into the one-minute ad; the rest is sound bites—I guess samples—from Carson’s speeches. There is also a flute loop. From a certain perspective, it makes sense that Carson would release a rap ad. But from another, better perspective, it makes no sense at all.
From the depths of his fatherhood, Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this Bubble Tape commercial of the early 90s—right at the intersection of Max Headroom and MTV. The Baby Boomers had recently assumed control of broadcast media, but they retained their identity as the first generation in history to see through institutional authority. They still didn’t buy what the man was selling, but their lives had progressed to the point where they were selling it. The generation told not to trust anyone over 30 was now in charge of marketing long gum to children. Naturally, they employed the message that most resonated with them: old people are not cool. As the Boomers grew even more hideously aged in the decades that followed, that idea would mutate into “most people are not cool.” The notion that you could be different from most people by buying something would become the central premise of American advertising.
Still from another advertisement that may mischaracterize Rep. Steve King (R–IA)
Tea Party darling and Iowa delegate to the US House of Representatives Steve King has refused to publicly debate Jim Mowrer until the Democrat’s campaign stops running a “misleading” advertisement against him. According to the Sioux City Journal, King withdrew from a Sunday debate on Iowa Public Television over a television ad that alleges he voted against increasing the minimum wage and for increasing congressional compensation. King denies that he ever “voted to raise his pay or get free health care. “When Mowrer comes clean, I’ll clear my schedule for Sunday and debate him,” King told the Journal. Until then, voters can just sit tight and work with the information they have.
Kudos to The Missoulian for the stubbornly bland headline Independent Groups Raise Profile of Montana Supreme Court Race. That’s one way to describe what The Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Montana PAC—catchy name, guys—did when it made this ad and bought $100k worth of airtime to support Supreme Court candidate Lawrence VanDyke in an ostensibly nonpartisan race. VanDyke’s campaign slogan is “following the law, not the politics.” It’s good he doesn’t follow politics, or else he might realize he was the object of partisan mendacity and get sad.
That’s Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman, currently the Republican nominee to replace US Rep. Tom Petri, arguing that there are too many yes-men in Congress. “Glenn Grothman knows when it’s time to stand up and say no,” the ad assures us. Of course, the 113th Congress is on track to pass fewer laws than any in US history. There appears to be an unprecedented number of representatives willing to stand up and say no, but in Grothman’s mind Congress is a handmaiden to the president. His bizarre claim reflects an article of faith among contemporary conservatives: that the United States has somehow become pervasively, oppressively liberal.