OK, first up Carly Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard currently in the middle of a Senate run in California. Fiorina is gunning for the Republican nomination, after former employer HP booted her out in 2005 (to give you an idea of what they thought of her, HP has has since contributed to her opponent’s campaign fund).
So, you might think this ad is aimed at veteran Democrat Barbara Boxer. Nope, that’s not how US politics works. To first secure the Republican nomination Fiorina has to
smear overcome other Republicans also seeking the nomination. So, this ad is aimed at fellow Republican Tom Campbell. Fiorina hasn’t even got to Boxer yet.
It’s so hard to know where to start with this ad. UK readers may be shocked by how vicious the ad is, especially considering its aimed at someone from the same political party. But low blows and negative campaigning are par for the course in US politics, especially from the right-wing, following Karl Rove’s foray into political campaigning.
What is more obvious is that this is completely swivel-eyed, wing-nut, bible-bashing, lib’rul-hatin’ batshit crazy, particularly odd in the relatively-liberal California. I mean, there’s a guy dressed up as a wolf in sheep’s clothing running around a hillside with glowing red eyes.
There’s a sheep standing on a doric column that starts ascending into the stratosphere as if animated by Terry Gilliam on an off day. There’s a bizarre attempt at an acronym that doesn’t even work – FCINO. And what do ‘Piety’ and Purity’ have to do with anything?
It’s a confused message, but is the message even important? To American’s perpetually scared, perpetually angry, perpetually suspicious right-wing populus it may successfully brand Campbell as evil, demonic or, even worse, a Fiscal Conservative In Name Only.
It’s a strategy that bombed with the UK’s rather less terrified population with the Tories’ Demon Eyes billboard poster in ’97, but the publicity it has garnered speaks for itself.
It’s often said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it – and that’s a mantra the US right has run with, which is why plenty of people believed Obama was a communist, a Muslim, a homosexual or not even a US national during the 2008 campaign.
This ad takes that theory and turns it all up to 11. It’s all hyperbole, innuendo and flat-out smear. Already media outlets are declaring that this advert is so bonkers that it will finish off Fiorina’s campaign.
I hope they don’t underestimate just how susceptible US voters are to this kind of drivel. The fact that the seat in question is California offers some hope, but try telling Michael Dukakis that negative campaigning doesn’t work.
NB. Skip to 2.30 for the madness to begin.