Opinion: Screw the politics of hope!


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That seems to be the gist of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s latest ad, titled ‘Children’:

It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something’s happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?


As the voiceover continues you see, yes, a series of children sleeping peacefully. It’s like the pre-slasher scene in a horror movie, just moments before they cue the creepy music and you know that shadow with the knife in hand is going to be creeping up the stairway within 30 seconds. The ad is a bold move -- though nowhere near Tom Tancredo‘s for sheer fear tactics -- but was it a smart one, given that ‘hope-mongering’ is dominating the primaries?

Barack Obama, predictably, reacted to that very weakness. From the Houston Chronicle:

With the pivotal March 4 Texas primary just four days away, Obama said ‘the question is not who you want to pick up the call, the question is what kind of judgment will you exercise when you pick up that phone.’ ‘In fact we have had a red phone moment when the decision was made to invade Iraq,’ he said, referring to the crisis line in the White House. ‘Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer.’ Obama, who has taken a lead in most recent Texas polls, including one published today in the Houston Chronicle, said Clinton was trying to ‘scare up’ voters with her latest ad.

Then again, the junior senator from New York wasn’t gaining much ground with her ‘change through experience’ pitch, so maybe scare tactics aren’t such a bad idea. And of course, this TV spot openly plays on the maternal instincts of all those middle-class women (or the Security Moms, as Reason’s David Weigel puts it) she’s trying to hold on to for March 4. There’s a big fat wad of irony in here somewhere ...