COLUMN: Campaign commercials show the true nature of Republicans

By Eric Naing

A disgraced, Bible-thumping quarterback, the wife from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ two baseball players and Jesus walk into a bar.” No, this is not the start of a terrible joke; it is one of several new conservative campaign commercials that fall well below the line of good taste. Other commercials targeting Democrat Harold Ford in Tennessee overtly try to paint him as an uppity black man who has sex with white women and plays “jungle drums” whenever his name is mentioned.

A recent and much-debated ad supporting stem cell research and Missouri Senatorial candidate Claire McCaskill features Michael J. Fox visibly suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Along with Rush Limbaugh’s horrific attempts to discredit Fox, a group called Missourians Against Human Cloning has run a response ad trying to scare Missourians into voting against an amendment allowing stem cell research.

The ad features a gaggle of A-list (at least for Missouri) celebrities fretting about stem cells such as Patricia Heaton (a.k.a. Mrs. Raymond), a Kansas City Royal and “Passion of the Christ” star Jim Caviezel bizarrely speaking in Aramaic. Professional has-been and former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner draws upon his extensive knowledge of genetics to tell us that stem cells are bad because “there won’t be any cures for at least 15 years.” Apparently to him, meticulous scientific research, even if it could provide life-saving cures for debilitating diseases, is simply not worth it if it takes more than 15 years.

Jeff Suppan, another sports figure known for his massive scientific knowledge tells us that this amendment “makes cloning a constitutional right.” While the St. Louis Cardinal may have considerable pitching skills, his ability to read leaves much to be desired. One of the first lines in the amendment reads, “No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.”

If I want to know about stem cells, I’ll turn to Michael J. Fox who actually suffers from Parkinson’s. If I want warmed-over family friendly comedy or Aramaic lessons, I’ll turn to Heaton or Caviezel.

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    Another commercial running in Tennessee blatantly uses race to attack Democrat Harold Ford. The ad starts innocuously enough with “average” people spouting right-wing talking points, but then a “ditzy” white, blonde woman with no visible clothes on appears saying, “I met Harold at the Playboy party” and then suggestively whispers, “Harold, call me.” At the end, a tagline reads, “Harold Ford. He’s just not right.” It might as well have read, “Harold Ford. Remember, he’s black and lusts after white women.” Another ad for Ford’s opponent Bob Corker plays what WGOW radio producer called “jungle drums” every time Ford’s name is mentioned.

    In Massachusetts, a campaign commercial run against a gubernatorial candidate who again happens to be an African American Democrat accuses him of supporting rapists and uses the “racial stereotype of lone white woman about to be jumped by black rapist” according to The Boston Globe.

    These ads are a return to the horrifying Jim Crow era when the Ku Klux Klan used fear and violence as a political tool to control elections. Back then, racists used falsified claims of black men preying on innocent white women to demonize the black community.

    From the Willie Horton ads, to the rage over illegal immigration, to the attacks on Ford, the GOP has proven that it still has not shed its long history of racism. Do not let talk of “compassionate conservatism” or feeble attempts at outreach to woo the black and Latino vote fool you. When crunch time comes, Republicans will not hesitate to use racism to get the edge in a couple elections.

    Concerning Missouri, Republicans realize they are on the wrong side of the stem cell debate and now are forced to appeal to their anti-science, extremist Christian base once more. As for me, in a debate over science, I’d rather have time-traveling Marty McFly than the wife from “Everybody Loves Raymond” or Jesus on my side.