My father loves to tell people that the difference between humans and animals is that animals don’t let their offspring back in the nest once they’ve been kicked out. Dad speaks from personal experience; I moved in with him for a while when I had a bout of unemployment and underemployment back in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, the last three years have made that more the norm than the exception, and as a result, older workers have to put off retirement and younger workers despair of ever getting out on their own. American Crossroads hammers on the theme of despair in the age of Hopenchange in its new ad, “Basketball”:
The New York Times notes the subtlety of the approach, and the effectiveness that it might have in swing states over the next few weeks:
When it makes its debut Wednesday in 10 swing states as the centerpiece of a $25 million campaign, it is expected to become one of the most heavily broadcast political commercials of this phase of the general election.
Yet what Mr. McCarthy and Crossroads have produced is not the kind of searing denunciation of President Obama that their track records would suggest. More soft-pedal than Swift Boat, the 60-second advertisement, complete with special effects, is a deeply researched, delicately worded story of a struggling family; its relatively low-key tone is all the more striking, coming at a point in the campaign when each side is accusing the other of excessive negativity.
Behind the story of the ad’s creation rests one of the greatest challenges for Republicans in this election: how to develop a powerful line of attack against a president who remains well liked even by people who are considering voting against him.
The big news, from the NYT’s perspective at least, is that the harder-edged arguments about Obama’s integrity and history flopped in American Crossroads focus-group testing. That’s no surprise, and it’s no hindrance to Team Romney anyway. This election will be about the economy and job creation and Obama’s track record on both, which one can tell by the sheer desperation of Team Obama to talk about almost anything else.
This ad forces the subject to the surface in a very personal way. This mirrors the anxiety shared by millions through three straight Stagnant Springs and Wreckovery Summers. It accentuates an infantilization of American young adults accelerated by Obamanomics as well as ObamaCare, which forces insurers to keep people as old as 25 years of age on their parents’ health policies whether they are students or not. The overall theme of oppressive dependency got accentuated by Team Obama’s “Life of Julia,” in which an eyeless and mouthless woman spends her entire life dependent on paternalistic government beneficence, in what one Washington Post writer called a future of The Hubby State.
The presentation and subtleties of this ad are impressive — and I suspect will be very effective in swing states this summer, especially as college students come home from graduation ceremonies and fail to find work.