As I was catching up on my daytime TV (thank you pneumonia...), I happened to catch a Louis Black rant on the Daily Show, and an hour later the most recent ad against Scott Brown's candidacy for Senate, and had a bit of an epiphany: Democrats just don't do anger well, and Republicans do. Now sure, Republicans have the stereotype of being a bunch of angry white men, and there is something to that, but I'm thinking about ads, for the moment, not the party composition.
One of the first attack ads ever was the so-called "Daisy" ad by Lyndon Johnson's campaign. You can check it out here if you like. Subtle, isn't it? So we've come a long ways since then. The latest ad about Scott Brown: Gone Washington, illustrates what I mean about a lack of anger. You can watch it here on youtube. It's a good example of the tone-deafness of Democratic groups. At this point, frustration is incredibly high amongst voters, and there is a lot of honest and deserved anger toward the way Washington DC is not working. But listen to the tone in that ad: chiding, disappointed, tsk, tsk, tsk. But not angry. I have yet to see an ad for Elizabeth Warren, his presumptive opponent, but I'll be willing to bet that they will likewise try for the intellectual, "we're above petty emotion/we need to be the grown ups" approach that Obama has been trying until recently, to little success. It isn't going to resonate with the tone of the electorate if they try to avoid the anger thing. I think they should embrace it.
Democrats need to get mad. I'm not suggesting that Louis Black should be their role model, for he is a comedian working to get a laugh, but some righteous anger about how the GOP has stonewalled American progress in the name of party ideology is more than appropriate. I'd suggest an ad campaign themed: "I'm fed up". Feature all kinds of working class folks saying just that phrase, interspersed with a brief screen shot consisting of the title, date and summary of each piece of legislation that the Republicans have stonewalled or rejected, or clips of Mitch McConnell declaring his only goal is to make Obama a one term president, or similar commentary from Boehner/Cantor, etc. and close with "throw the bums out" or words to that effect. Use anger to rally support nationwide to change the composition of the congress, for that is where the problems with our political system largely exist.
(Then please, please, do not let Nancy Pelosi back in the Speakers chair, and toss Harry Reid out of his post and replace them with others--fresh leadership is desperately needed, and Ms. Hannigan and Droopy the Dog just don't cut it or get it...)
Along these lines, I just was reminded from a small item in the globe that a classmate of mine from Conn is the communication director for the Republican National Party. Which means he coordinates the message, tone and content for all communication coming out of the GOP. Now, I didn't know Sean well, nor would I say personally; we probably spoke in passing three times. I know he was a good sailor, and he was very good at the "hail fellow, well met" moment. And I know he never was elected class president, despite trying annually, And I know he was a mean drunk. So I have every confidence that he will manage the tone of the Republicans to harness that anger productively. Democrats could learn something from that. Maybe they need a mean drunk of their own...