Norm Coleman returns to attack mode in his latest television ad, “Rules”.  In it, he reminds voters that Al Franken liked to talk tough about cracking down on CEOs that didn’t play by the rules.  However, as a CEO himself, Franken didn’t live up to his own rhetoric:

Al Franken: “I love corporations that play by the rules. And we have to make them play by the rules.”

On Screen: FRANKEN FACES A $25,000 WORKERS COMP PENALTY. STAR TRIBUNE 3/12/08

Announcer: “But Al Franken was fined a $25,000 fine for not providing workers’ comp in New York.”

On Screen: OWES $5800 AFTER FAILING TO FILE TO STATE INCOME TAX RETURNS. STAR TRIBUNE 4/17/08

Announcer: “Then $5800 for not filing California income taxes.”

On Screen: OWES $70,000 IN BACK TAXES IN 17 STATES. AP 4/30/08

Announcer: “Turns out Franken didn’t pay taxes in 17 other states. For Five years.”

On Screen: NOT REVEALING IF THERE ARE ANY UNPAID STATE TAXES BEFORE 2003. WCCO TELEVISON 4/30/08

Announcer: “And Franken still won’t say whether he owes unpaid taxes from before 2003.”

On Screen: WATCH WHAT HE DOES NOT WHAT HE SAYS.

Al Franken: “And we have to make them play by the rules.”

Few things work better in political advertising than outright hypocrisy, and this is no exception.  Attacking politicians as hypocrites, especially personal hypocrites as in this case, undermines the credibility of the opponent and makes everything they say suspect.  In this case, it puts Franken in a box where he has to explain himself as either dishonest or incompetent, neither of which recommends him for higher office.

This, of course, is why Franken’s dropped almost all the way off the radar screen in the Minnesota Senate race.  Coleman wants to make sure he remains there.  However, one has to wonder whether Coleman may risk overselling this point, especially when Republicans have unearthed a gold mine in energy policy.  Drilling may not play quite as well in Minnesota as it does in other states, but drilling in the OCS gets a solid majority in support.  Why not just keep tying Franken to Harry Reid and Democratic obstructionism?