Montana Politics

Republican Gubernatorial Ad Roundup

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Three Men and a Super Spy

The Republican candidates for governor hit Montana television this week with a series of advertisements designed to sell their agenda to the voters of Montana just as absentee ballots reached many mailboxes.

Frontrunner Rick Hill promised to “Get the Job Done,” offering the same kind of vague promises that have marked his campaign from the outset. He’s continuing to play it safe with no real rival emerging in Republican field.

Neil Livingstone eschewed his typical comic book and gunfire approach in favor of an ad that has the production values of a middle school iMovie project combined with narration that would cure the most severe case of insomnia known to man.  I still prefer Livingstone’s initial ad, which offered a bit more excitement while giving a more accurate view of the man’s career and temperament.

Corey Stapleton, who can’t count campaign donations, used his ad to demonstrate that he can’t count the ranks of the unemployed, lying that Montana’s unemployment rate is higher today than ever. Flatly untrue.

Once again the clear Republican theme is distorting Montana’s economic record, a record of real success in trying times. Instead of making Montana seem attractive to businesses, these three would rather promote the idea that Montana doesn’t welcome them. I prefer a governor who not only believes in the state, but who works for it—and promotes it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • Propaganda, as expressed in political advertising, is far more interesting than you make it out to be here. Imagine that words are the mere shell, and that the nut is the images. The soft (or harsh) music, the voiceover, should be turned off to help grasp the real message that is carefully embedded by the advertising professionals. The beating heart of every ad agency is behavioral psychology.

    Take but one example, Jon Tester on his farm wearing that dirty jacket. It’s a high-quality ad, and the image sends a powerful message – “I’m not a guy in a suit and tie, but just a farmer working away. I don’t belong in Washington.” I am willing to bet that no one can remember the actual words in that ad. They don’t matter. They are selling down-to-earth Jon, which he is surely not.

    The suit and tie, by the way, appear soft on the outside, but are uniforms for men in battle. The necktie is obviously of no use, but is shaped like an arrow pointing at the genitals. It says “I am man, I fight.” Politicians eschew this uniform in their ads. Why? And what clothing do women wear that expresses that menacing message?

    Amyway, in my world, visual messages would be outlawed in political campaigns, as they are purely manipulative. I would confine campaigning to a limited period, outlaw TV advertising, and force candidates into rooms where they are forced to answer hard questions, and not the softballs that professional non-threatening journalists throw at them. Those evens I would televise, and the stations airing them would not be paid.

          • Please label your sarcasm as such to aid me in the future. It’s hard to tell, given that you are such a bad writer, what you intend to do with your words.

            A website that treats political ads as political discourse obviously does not see through them.

            • I’m not responsible for your clueless nature, Mark. I’d appreciate it if you not attempt to make me such while insulting me for your poor understanding of what’s being said around you.

              • I’ve yet to stumble across something that, when presented to you, is not something you already understand in depth. That, and you have no humor.

                I’ll say something said many times – that if you thnk yourself immune to manipulation by ads and PR due to your intellect or education, you are its victim. Advertising works, and the only defense is awareness of its power and our vulnerability.

                But you knew hat.

    • “The necktie is obviously of no use, but is shaped like an arrow pointing at the genitals. ” That explains a couple things – why I love suits but hate ties, mostly. But then why doesn’t Ahmadinejad wear one?

      “Amyway, in my world, visual messages would be outlawed in political campaigns, as they are purely manipulative. I would confine campaigning to a limited period, outlaw TV advertising, and force candidates into rooms where they are forced to answer hard questions, and not the softballs that professional non-threatening journalists throw at them. Those evens I would televise, and the stations airing them would not be paid.”

      So…you’re telling us you don’t take the first amendment literally either in terms of free speech or the free press, and you think the government should control TV stations? That sounds like more liberty to me!

      • Don’t be so literal. Plato proposed sending artists away from his Republic, and I was in that vein.

        I first encountered the social significance of the tie in my twenties reading Desmond Morris’ Naked Ape. He gave the necktie a quick drive-by, as if its symbolism should be obvious to us, which it was not to me. He said something to the effect that the bow-tie expresses a non-sexual non-aggressive manner. My life experience at this time confirms this. And also consider that non-sexual non-aggressive Catholic priests eschew the necktie and opt for the buck tooth. (The girly costumes and penis-shaped hats of bishops is another thing to ponder.)

        Your fear of Iran, currently the thrust of American propaganda, is rather affirming for me. That is a non-threatening state, but its leader is apparently a demonic archetype for you nonetheless. Never, ever, talk to me about the effectiveness of propaganda again, or at least until you break free of it. (I know very little of their dress habits. Neckties are not as common in Islamic cultures as here, but we are far more barbaric and aggressive than they are, so it fits.)

  • “Don’t be so literal. Plato proposed sending artists away from his Republic, and I was in that vein. ”

    What you’re proposing is actually very similar to the rules in some Western European countries, hence me taking it literally.

    As to ties and Iran – I actually like Ahmadinejad’s style, it’s quite similar to my own. But compare his wardrobe to Khatami – what is he trying to convey? Khatami had a very traditional wardrobe, as did the president before him. What is Ahmadinejad saying with his decision to dress like a Western businessman on casual Friday? His attire is about modernizing, his rhetoric is about standing up. I wonder why he decided to ditch the tie – is he trying to be populist (Bush in New Orleans, for example?) A revolutionary (Che or Castro?) I don’t know.

    I like how you jump on that to assume, like you always do, that I am terrified of Iran and support an invasion immediately. But it’s willful ignorance on your part, because I have repeatedly stated my opinion on normalizing relations with Iran. Hell, the first persuasive essay I ever wrote in Sophomore year of high school was about normalizing relations with Iran. But Ahmadinejad is trying to project a defiant image to the West (and more importantly, to his allies in opposition to the Washington Consensus). If the tie is a symbol of aggression, why no tie?

  • I have idea why he dresses hat way. I hardly ever think of him. I do think about all of the tens or hundreds of thousands of Iranians who will be killed or maimed if Obywan attacks. He does for the most part address his words to his Muslim brethren, and we only hear Israeli translations of his words when they are possibly construed incendiary.

    It is interesting that I was speaking of aggression and manly posturing, and to offer counter-evidence you zeroed in on the enemy du jour. That’s all. It wasn’t something you thought about. It was reflexive.

    Sorry I missed that sophomoric paper. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

  • I actually chose Ahmadinejad as a famous person who almost never wears ties (something pointed out to me by a webcomic you may like that ran during the Bush years, getyourwaron ).

    I also not that you’ve backed down on your previous prediction –

    “Or most important, that the current executive is about to launch a monstrous attack on Iran, risking world-wide conflict, sure to kill millions, and unprovoked?….I’m thinking nukes, as our war planners are fucking madmen.”

    About to launch a monstrous attack? Nukes? Millions dead?

    “I do think about all of the tens or hundreds of thousands of Iranians who will be killed or maimed if Obywan attacks.”

    So, we’ve scaled the magnitude of this problem down an order or two of magnitude and several orders of certainty. Makes sense, you predicted a spring attack and we’re a few days away from summer.

    I’m currently reading John Mearsheimer’s “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”, and he offers this bit of theoretical advice-“…trying to anticipate new events is a good way to test social science theories, because theorists do not have the benefit of hindsight and therefore cannot adjust their claims to fit the evidence (because it is not yet available). …. (some theories have little explanatory power because the world simply does not work the way they predict.”

  • I am generally the first to say that the future is unknowable., but that has to do with investing. Those times when I have made predictions, they have mostly not come true. My limited success has been with Obama, that he would extend the Bush tax cuts, sign the Defense authorization act, etc. My underlying theory is an Obama is not in charge of anything, and that there was no change in foreign (or domestic) policy in 2008, so that it was reasonable to expect that the future would be a continuation of the past – more wars, torture, detention, loss of civil liberties tax cuts, deregulation etc. Democrats would just stop talking about it, or would actively support it. And indeed, I’ve yet to hear a Dem utter the word “Gitmo.” They’ve become Bushites.

    War is a fool’s bet. I should not have said those things. Had you asked me about Iraq in 2003, no way would I have anticipated the devastation – 1.2 millon dead, two million leaving … too many wild cards.

    But seeing a massive military buildup, it is tempting to speculate what is in store for the poor schmucks of Iran – a heavy dose of freedom, American style? I am not seeing the media frenzy of agitprop that preceded Iraq. I don’t know what’s up. The buildup could be a threatening posture to achieve war ends without war, but as we both know, this is one crazy fucking country. They don’t make empty threats, and millions of corpses attest to that.

    Mearsheimer – I generally avoid intellectual academics who revere power, as they tend to be what Chomsky calls the ” bought priesthood.” I know there are stacks and stacks of books at the library by such people, and they all ooze an air of authority, but I just can’t bring myself into that stable. I know these are smart and wise people who write for other smart and wise people but I much prefer those who write about this country who are detached outsiders. His premise seems rather simple – if someone’s ideas do not have predictive value then those ideas need to be worked harder or abandoned. Kinda duh.

    • By the way, and this is one of those quirks of language, the words “to be honest with you,” “to tell the truth” etc. serve as a warning to the listener that a lie is in the works, or that the speaker routinely lies and has taken a new tack with his current words. My defense systems naturally perk up when I hear such phrases.

      Then there is the word “actually.” The Kailey brothers constantly use it, and you just used it here. It too serves as a warning that I am about to be set straight, but not in an honest manner. It rings hollow. It’s not so blatant as “to be perfectly honest” but seems to serve the same purpose. In this case it tells me that when I suggested that when you reflexively referred to Ahmadinejad as a menacing persona without a necktie, that I had hit on something.

      Anyway, I avoid use of the word “actually,” as it serves to diminish the message rather than enhance it.

  • Psychobabble aside, I said actually to indicate that in actuality (as opposed to, in your perception), I was inspired by a comic strip which refers to Ahmadinejad as “Mr. Casual Fridays”.

    But really – your predictions not coming true is important not just because you were wrong; your personal lack of prophetic ability is of no concern. It is important because they needed to come true for you theory to make any sense. Your theory, I mean, that the president in power makes no difference and more broadly that outrageous actions like the invasion of Iraq are in keeping with the general flow of US policy. The invasion of Iraq was an enormous aberration, part of a 7 year period where offshore balancing was abandoned in favor of aggressive on-the-ground combat.

    You really should read Mearsheimer, or something you disagree with, it will expand your mind. I bought the book having read only parts of his previous work, and it is quite interesting. You may find, like I did, that his amorality in regard to foreign policy is a little shocking, but the explanatory power of his theory is impressive. And you’ll also find, I think, that many of his conclusions are the same as Chomsky, regarding how leaders (especially in the US) talk to their people and how countries invariable act. The main difference is that where Chomsky sees deplorable avarice in the actions of great powers, Mearsheimer sees a tragic inevitability. He reveres power in that he sees it as the primary commodity in international relations, but he doesn’t universally support US policies; he has written on the destructive effect our relationship with Israel has on our international power, and strongly opposed the war in Iraq – in both cases on realistic grounds.

    • Fun dealing with you. The word “actually” pops up at odd times and tends to diminish the words that follow. “In actuality” is even more clumsy. If what you say is factual then just say it without the emPHAsizing words. Apparent truth has weight on its own and needs no strengtheners. The need to add words like that indicates insincerity.

      That’s not psychobabble. In actuality, it’s factual, every word is satisfactual. That’s language, actually. Every word or phrase has a purpose, usually unstated. “To be perfectly honest” means a lie follows. Politics is laden with such phrases. Reading them is 101.

      More tomorrow. Very tired, actually.

      • That’s the point, PW. Tokarski’s brain chemistry controls what is real and/or not. He’s tired now, so what ever happens in “reality” won’t be real until he comments again. Sorry.

        • I just read your comment at 4&20 about Newtonian physics and “communicative sociology.” What muddled mush! I would’t be commenting on anyone else’s comments, if I were you.

          Anyway, PW, words used in preface to a statement that are meant to emphasize the point to follow indicate that the writer or speaker feels a need to beef up the statement. So the word “actually” told me that you had been caught short.

          A certain commenter above uses that word frequently, as noted. He is frequently caught short.

          Actually, I remember reading Bill Buckley years ago in National Review making the same point.

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