Seamans: Campaign ads redux

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(HOST) Time was when political attack ads were mostly confined to election cycles, but commentator Bill Seamans says that may have changed.  

(SEAMANS) Remember that tsunami of radio and tv ads during the campaigns with which the Democrats and Republicans beat each other and caused us to cry out, "Enough is Enough!"  As hopes for civility died, I recalled a prescient comment by Ed Murrow ‘way back in 1950 when he said: "The audience is being fed a diet that tends to insulate them from realities of the world in which they live.  In short, very little is done to reflect when hurling insults often counts as discussion."   Murrow could have said that this morning and if you thought you had been saved, forget about it!

The Democrats have launched a new tv ad campaign to brand Rush Limbaugh as the de facto leader of the Republican Party after he declared that he hoped President Barack Obama "would fail."  In a barn-burner address to the Conservative Political Action Conference  Rush urged Republicans to shout it out loud and clear.  Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, challenged reporters to ask Republican leaders whether they agree with Rush and want  the government to fall during a crisis.  Rush claims that Obama’s forces want to divert attention from the failure to fix the financial crisis even though Obama has been in office less than three months.  Brad Woodhouse, the White House communications director, said that when Rush says jump, Republicans say how high?  Frank Rich, the New York Times pundit wrote that "GOP politicians are tripping over themselves in morbid fear of Rush."  According to Rush, Obama is an extreme leftist who wants to turn the country into a socialist dictatorship.

An ad war out of the election season is a relatively new development according to Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, and he says that "we’re going to see more and more – that it’s now an extension of the permanent campaign."

Obama’s assertion that Republicans should not listen to Limbaugh is seen by some Democrats as a major tactical blunder based on the dictum: "Never dignify your enemies with recognition."  Thus, it’s argued, Rush has been lifted up by Obama to the highest level of celebrity and has been handed millions of dollars worth of free publicity.  But another view asks whether it was, indeed, a very clever gambit to nominate Rush Limbaugh, whom critics call the high priest of pseudo populism, as the voice of the Republicans to create dissension within the party over whether to endorse or disown Rush’s opinions.

Now, I expect the Republicans will answer back with their own ad campaign and Rush, of course, will be given tons of new material with which to attack the Democrats.

And there’s more – the other night talk show host Bill O’Reilly asked a guest what he though about Rush Limbaugh as a presidential candidate in 2012. Now there’s a question!

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