GOP presidential hopeful and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty today launched a second campaign ad in Iowa, a primary state he’s still fighting furiously to win. In light of T-Paw’s consistently lackluster performance in the polls and a dejecting fundraising quarter, the ad assumes increased significance. If it energizes voters the slightest bit, it might help Pawlenty to build the momentum he right now so conspicuously lacks.
The ad is well-executed, but, after watching it a couple times, I can’t help but question the wisdom of emphasizing a union strike and a government shutdown as evidence of accomplishments. The ad provides little context with which to understand why, exactly, these events should be seen as “wins” for Pawlenty. Instead, it seems to rely on an innate conservative interpretation of union protests and a halt to government as somewhat unpleasant, but ultimately acceptable, consequences of impressive, committed, conservative policy-making. I’d rather hear about the conservative policy-making — the actual accomplishments.
Admittedly, the evocation of recent strong leadership — as seen in Republican Gov. Scott Walker, for example — initially worked its number on me. At first, I found Pawlenty’s ad appealing (the background music and narrator’s voice, especially!). But, if Walker were ever to run for president, I’d hope his campaign ad would tout that he “balanced the budget in the face of union protests” — not just the union protests. Pawlenty should have done the same.
It seems like a stretch to think an alliteratively masterful slogan like, “Results, not rhetoric,” and a cinematically attractive ad like this one will communicate — or achieve — real results. Actually, seems like just more rhetoric to me.