Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Benzilla vs. Pete Ricketts' Mom

by Kyle Michaelis
View the latest television ads by incumbent Senator Ben Nelson and by would-be Republican challenger Pete Ricketts. I'd love to hear what other people think about them - commenting would be greatly appreciated just to feed my curiosity about how these play with other people.

My reaction: the Ben Nelson ad may be downright brilliant politically. Nothing screams election year like stirring up popular sentiment and running against some foreign devils. As the rest of the country focuses on illegal immigrants from the south, Nelson has cornered the Japanese all to himself, ready to crush Tokyo at a moment's notice (BENZILLA ATTACKS!!!) if they don't play ball and open their markets to our Nebraska-bred beef.

Still, when Nelson says "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"....that's just too folksy even for me. I understand that Nebraskans are common people - God bless'em - but that doesn't mean you have to talk to them in trite maxims likening complicated issues of foreign trade to one of "Aesop's Fables."

If I'm going to fault Nelson's ad for being trite, though, I don't even know where to begin with Pete Ricketts' latest. First of all, who exactly is the candidate here - Pete or his mom? Sure, she seems like a real nice lady. Sure, she's provided the one real touch of charm for which Ricketts has any hope of being remembered - after TV viewers watched her put that stocking cap on his head for the 50th time. But, my God, a candidate has to stand on his own two feet. If Mrs. Ricketts wants to run for office, she should go ahead, but, otherwise, Pete should come out from behind her apron and run a campaign on some actual issues.

Seriously, what does Mrs. Ricketts being a "Nebraska City Farm Girl" and vaguely remembering having to stick to a budget before her husband was a billionaire have to do with ANYTHING? Is Pete really so desperate to establish a personal connection with voters - is he really so lacking in his own charisma (against "Tin Man" Don Stenberg, no less) - that his mommy has to do it for him.

I don't want to insult anyone's family. I'm not going to insult anyone's family - even if Ricketts does invite it by spending all those millions of dollars on this vacuous nonsense.

Finally, whereas the red stocking cap was once sort of cute, the Ricketts campaign's attempt to here make it some sort of personal trademark just reeks of desperation. Ricketts' inability to gain traction on issues hardly justifies the buying of votes with lame humor and shallow cuteness. Voters - no matter how old, living no matter how far out in the boonies - simply aren't going to fall for it.

Am I way off base here? Maybe I am becoming too cynical for my own good. Tell me what you think, as I ponder taking a temporary vacation from this incessant ranting.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most people see through how phony Trust Fund Pete is. He has to describe his mother's childhood in order to recall the last time anyone with the last name Ricketts lived under a tight budget.

Ben's ad is sincere, direct, and simple (and skirts the many complexities of the beef debate, instead focusing on simple eye for an eye reactionary politics).

4/18/2006  
Anonymous Adam said...

I agree with your comments on the Pete Ricketts ad, I first saw it while with some friends and we were all making bets on when his mom was going to announce her candidacy.

4/19/2006  
Anonymous pax said...

I think the Nelson ad is a swipe at our recently departed governor. Didn't Johanns promise to fix the beef issue when he headed off to Washington to become Sec of Ag?

As far as Ricketts' ad...my mute button is going to be worn out by the time the primary rolls around. We obviously don't need a senator that doesn't even know when to put a hat on his bald head.

4/20/2006  

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