As I flipped through the headlines this morning, one title jumped out at me from Politics USA: Bernie Sanders Sends Shock Waves Through American Politics With $2 Million Campaign Ad.
Whoa! Shock waves! I almost rubbed my hands together in anticipation. What could this be about? Did he come out and call for burning the Constitution and modeling a new government on Cuba’s? Had he hung the skin of a Wall Street investment banker on the hood of his Prius? I eagerly clicked on the link so I could find out for myself.
What followed was just about the furthest thing from “shocking” that I’ve seen in a couple of decades of covering politics. It’s relatively short and painless so I’ll give you a chance to watch it for yourself.
In case you couldn’t sit through it, here’s the ad copy.
The son of a Polish immigrant who grew up in a Brooklyn tenement, he went to public schools, then college where the work of his life began. Fighting injustice and inequality, speaking truth to power, he moved to Vermont, won election and praise as one of America’s best Mayors. In Congress, he stood up for working families and for principles. Opposing the Iraq War. Supporting veterans. Now, he’s taking on Wall Street and a corrupt political system, funded by over a million contributions. Tackling climate change to create clean energy jobs. Fighting for living wages, equal pay and tuition-free public colleges
(Voice over from campaign rally speech)
People are sick and tired of establishment politics and they want real change.
Bernie Sanders. Husband. Father. Grandfather. An honest leader — building a movement with you, to give us a future to believe in.
In the end, what was most shocking was the fawning description of the advertisement at Politics USA which made it sound as if this was some defining moment in American political history. Honestly, this was one of the most vanilla campaign ads I’ve seen this cycle.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad ad. It’s professionally produced and uses a fast moving montage of standard B roll clips interspersed with pictures of the candidate in various favorable settings. If you’re trying to reach an audience who might not have heard of Bernie yet or isn’t engaged enough to know very much about him it gets the job done without shooting Sanders in the foot, but there’s really nothing new or startling going on.
Though I did notice one odd moment near the beginning. If you freeze frame the shot of Sanders running in his track sit (from high school, I assume) they seem to have photoshopped out his right arm.
While it will be lost on most of the audience who doesn’t swim in the political swamps for a living, Sanders does manage to get in a few subtle shots at Hillary Clinton. Opposing the Iraq War. Supporting veterans… taking on Wall Street. There’s no question that he’s hitting his familiar rally themes about Hillary voting in favor of the war, her recent comments about the VA scandal not being such a big deal and her general coziness with Wall Street and the money she raises there.
If there’s anything shocking here it’s that he rolled out the ad this early. Two million sounds like an impressive buy until you realize that it’s roughly the amount of cash you need to get on the air in Florida for about a week. (Maybe two.) Unfortunately for the GOP, the ship has probably already sailed in terms of Bernie’s hopes of getting the nomination, but give him credit for coming out swinging for the full twelve rounds.