The essential ingredients of an attack ad include amplifying an opponent's sins beyond recognition, doing an interpretative dance with the truth, and possessing no hint of shame.
If these are the guides of perfection, the Republican National Committee has hit a trifecta in its latest attack on Minnesota Congresswoman Angie Craig.
As you may have heard, the U.S. House is examining whether Donald Trump should be impeached. For the moment, it's simply an inquiry into The Donald's sizable portfolio of sordid behavior. But since the president admits to urging foreign countries to gather dirt on his rivals – an illegality dating back two centuries – it would seem a reasonable pursuit.
Craig supports the inquiry. And because her suburban St. Paul district offers the best chance for Republicans to crack the metro area's solidly blue congressional delegation, they're on the attack.
The ad, a fill-in-the-blank model run against moderates nationwide, opens with the accusatory voice-over that's a staple of this art form: “Angie Craig promised she'd tackle problems facing our country.”
Naturally, it continues, “Craig broke her promise. Instead of fixing health care and lowering drug prices, Craig votes with the radicals for endless investigations of President Trump, wasting our tax dollars. Instead of working to create more jobs, Craig wants more hearings.”
Just so you know how scary this all is, the screen flashes with photos of Ilhan Omar, Nancy Pelosi, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It closes with Craig's phone number, urging viewers to “tell Angie Craig to put petty politics aside.”
As your middle-school English teacher might note, there are endemic problems with this thesis.
First, humans are generally capable of doing more than one thing at a time. Donald Trump, for example, manages to gut environment protections, lower taxes for large corporations, assail immigrants and randomly attack people on Twitter, all while spending most of his day watching television.
This would suggest that Craig can work on health care and watch hearings simultaneously.
Besides, Craig and her Democratic colleagues have been working on health care. They've passed bills barring Trump from removing mandatory coverage of pre-existing conditions and renewing the sale of junk polices, which may not cover you during emergencies, which kind of defeats the whole point of insurance.
They're also pushing for renewed support of hotlines that help people sign up for coverage, investigating scams in drug rebate programs, as well as a host of measures designed to reduce prices.
The problem, of course, is that all have been blocked by the very people making accusatory TV ads.
Republicans haven't shown an interest in health care since 2017, when they wanted to vacate pre-existing protections and renew junk policies. This, as you might imagine, proved wildly unpopular. Cowered, they haven't offered a new plan in two years. Both Trump and Mitch McConnell say they won't until after the 2020 elections, preferring you vote before you see the details.
The GOP is expecting you to forget all this. It's spending $328,875 attacking Craig for sins more appropriately laid at its own feet.
It's not a bad bet. We're the people who voted in Trump in the first place. We have an impressive history for falling for anything they tell us.