There have been plenty of jokes over the years about House Speaker John Boehner’s tendency to cry in public. But a new Democratic attack ad goes one step further, comparing Boehner to a bawling infant.
The 30-second-ad, entitled “Temper Tantrum,” opens with footage of a baby crying. The nearly hysterical crying continues uninterrupted for a full 15 seconds before a narrator intones, “Speaker John Boehner didn’t get his way on shutting down health care reform. So he shut down the government and hurt the economy.”
"Temper Tantrum" calls to mind a similar critique made against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995. After feeling "snubbed" by former President Bill Clinton during a ride aboard Air Force One, Gingrich moved forward with legislation that eventually led to the 28-day government shutdown that year.
In response, the New York Daily News famously ran a front page cartoon image of Gingrich in a diaper screaming with the headline, "Cry Baby."
For it's part, "Temper Tantrum" is certainly a unique approach to an attack ad, coming from the House Majority PAC, a Democratic Super Pac that has raised more than $3 million so far to oppose Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections.
While the debate over Obamacare has continued unabated since its passage in 2010, the rhetoric has recently turned up in the weeks leading up the government shutdown.
Conservatives made national headlines with their strange and arguably effective “Creepy Uncle Sam” attack ad showing a man dressed in a disturbing Uncle Sam costume who walks in on a young woman awaiting a doctor’s exam. That ad has generated more than 2 million YouTube views since going live on Sept. 18.
And there’s good reason why partisans of all stripes run attack ads: They work. Poll after poll shows that most Americans say they don’t like negative campaign ads. But every major study on their effectiveness shows that negative political advertising resonates with the average voter.
Whether it’s the famous “Daisy” ad from the 1960 presidential campaign or more recent efforts like the 2004 ad showing Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry windsurfing, these sort of “name calling” attack ads have become almost expected in the political debate.
In fact, personal attack ads are so commonplace in the current political debate that some of them are formulated before a political event even takes place. For example, it was reported this week that conservatives in Texas had preemptively crafted an attack ad against State Sen. Wendy Davis just in case Davis decided to run for governor in 2014. For the record, Davis announced her candidacy on Thursday, and the ads are expected to begin airing this weekend.