Former President Donald Trump’s Biden ad might be even more than it appears.
Trump’s Save America PAC just released one of the most devastating and effective presidential political ads I’ve seen in more than 40 years of watching them.
Maybe the defining feature of an effective political ad is one that captures the zeitgeist, while simultaneously painting either your candidate with the positive aspects of it or the other candidate with the negative.
One of the most effective ads of all time was also one of the most disingenuous — and in the world of presidential election politics, that’s really saying something. I’m referring, of course, to Lyndon Johnson’s famous/infamous “Daisy” ad against Barry Goldwater.
Did it matter that Goldwater never thought we should have gone to Vietnam in the first place? Did it matter that taking nukes off the table, as LBJ had done, told North Vietnam that they could safely push us as hard as they wanted?
Of course none of that mattered. But people wanted to believe that an “angry” conservative “zealot” like Goldwater must be a warmonger. So it worked.
And Goldwater, sadly, lost in an historic landslide.
Flash forward to 1984, and Ronald Reagan’s even more historic landslide over the hapless Walter Mondale.
Reagan could have coasted to victory even without his famous “The Bear” ad, but without naming names, the 30-second spot cemented in voters’ minds that Mondale represented the failed detente policies of the past.
By going on to an epic 49-state win — and Reagan might have won Mondale’s home state of Minnesota had he tried — Reagan firmly cemented his political power. No president has a second term as strong as his first, but Reagan came close, and “The Bear” helped make that happen.
Another strangely effective ad was also one of the first presidential TV spots — and one of the sunniest, too.
When Dwight Eisenhower ran against Adlai Stevenson in 1952, we were a nation tired of war (across the globe, 1941-1945, and Korea 1950-ongoing) but all-too accustomed to the tumult of Democrat rule (FDR-Truman, 1932-1952).
Ike promised a calm, seasoned hand, an end to the war in Korea, and, well, who didn’t like Ike?
If the ad seems quaint to modern eyes, that’s kind of the point. Quaint was exactly what the nation needed, and Ike delivered it.
Trump’s new ad is… the only thing I could think to say through my slack jaw the first time I watched it was, “Wow.”
My first thought after deciding to write this column was to do a cut-by-cut explanation of everything that makes this ad so effective.
But then I realized that this ad is about the gestalt, the totality, of Biden’s cascading policy failures.
To explain this ad would detract from what makes it great.
But there is one thing that might require some small bit of explanation, so here it goes.
I might be wrong about this, but after watching this ad, it was blue-sky-clear to me that Trump is running for reelection, and that this ad functions as his unofficial announcement of just that.
I’ll admit to exactly one trepidation about Trump running again.
If Trump were to run and win in 2024, it would be sweet revenge for all the legal and illegal means that were used by the Democrats to install Biden last year. I can think of almost nothing better I’d like in the world of politics.
But as someone pointed out a few weeks ago, if Trump runs in 2024, Democrats and their media wing would turn the election into a referendum on Trump 2017-2020 instead of a referendum on Biden 2021-2024.
And any time you’re re-fighting old battles it’s less effective than fighting the current battle.
Today’s Trump ad, though, made me realize that just seven months in, there’s no denying the totality of Biden’s failures.
Just. Seven. Months.
Try as they might, it would be damn-near impossible for the Democrat-Media Complex to change America’s mind about Biden.
So if today’s ad really is Trump’s unofficial ’24 campaign launch, let me be the first to raise a glass to a race well run — and well won.