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“A Generation Later, Rubio Flubs ‘Morning In America'”: The Whole “Morning” Metaphor Is A Little Too Subtle For Marco

Marco Rubio’s new television ad is generating a fair amount of attention, but not for reasons his campaign will like. In the opening moments of the minute-long “morning in America” spot, viewers see a boat crossing a harbor – which wouldn’t be especially interesting except for the fact that it’s a Canadian harbor.

And while that’s obviously amusing, it’s not the only reason to pay attention to the ad.

The “morning in America” reference, of course, is not accidental. It’s a phrase many Americans, especially Republicans, will probably recognize as a signature theme of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign. Remember this ad from 32 years ago? For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s the script:

“It’s morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four years. This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married, and with inflation at less than half of what it was just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to the future. It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”

And now, consider the message of Rubio’s version of the same ad. Note it’s mirror-image parallels.

“It’s morning again in America. Today, more men and women are out of work than ever before in our nation’s history. People pay more in taxes than they will for food, housing, and clothing combined. Nearly 20 trillion in debt for the next generation, double what it was just eight years ago. This afternoon, almost 6,000 men and women will be married, and with growing threats and growing government, they’ll look forward with worry to the future. It’s morning again in America and under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton our country is more vulnerable, divided, and diminished than ever before. Why would we ever want for more years, again, of that?”

Maybe the whole “morning” metaphor was a little too subtle for Marco Rubio.

The point of Reagan’s “morning in America” was optimism. “Mornings,” as a metaphor, are about new beginnings, fresh starts, and the hopes that come with a new day and new possibilities. It’s why the Republican icon made it the theme of his re-election campaign – he wanted people to feel good about the country.

Our dreams are dying; they’re just getting started. It’s not the end of an American promise; it’s the beginning.

Rubio’s ad keeps saying “it’s morning again in America,” except the Florida senator doesn’t seem to understand that he’s using “morning” incorrectly. To hear Rubio tell it, the United States is on the verge of a dystopian nightmare as our country descends into a hellhole. Rubio’s “morning” isn’t about new beginnings and new possibilities; it’s about waking up, opening the window shade, and feeling as miserable and pessimistic as possible.

It’s as if the senator got confused, and thought “morning” and “twilight” were effectively the same thing.

This is, however, part of a pattern. For months, Rubio’s polls were stagnant when he tried to run a positive, optimistic campaign, so he decided to scrap his message and adopt Trump’s script as his own. As of a couple of months ago, Rubio began telling the public the United States is “in decline”, the American dream is “dying.”

This new commercial is a continuation of the theme. Rubio is selling crushing pessimism with a smile, assuming people won’t pay attention to the fact that he’s not pitching Reagan’s message; he’s offering the literal opposite.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 16, 2016

February 17, 2016 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Morning In America, Ronald Reagan | , , , , | 3 Comments

“Not To Worry, The Negativity Is Coming”: Why The GOP’s 2016 Bloodbath Is Going To Be Great Fun — And Instructive

If there are any Republicans out there who haven’t joined the presidential race, they’ll probably be getting in soon — even if a Donald Trump campaign is too much to hope for.

With a remarkable 15 announced or soon-to-announce candidates, including such dynamos as Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, there’s still one thing we haven’t seen yet: the Republican candidates attacking each other. There’s been a vague insinuation here and an implied criticism there, but no real verbal fisticuffs to speak of. But worry not: The negativity is coming, and when it does, it will come fast and hard.

The first contest of the primary season is still eight months away, but as it gets closer, each candidate will start seeing their relative place in the contest come into focus. And the more it does, the greater the incentive will be to take potential opponents down a peg.

Whoever’s in front (if anyone actually moves to the front) will want to beat back challenges from below. Those behind will want to punch upward to pull down the leader. And everyone will want to strike out laterally to make sure they’re the ones with a chance to climb upward.

Once the primaries begin, desperation will set in for some candidates, which inevitably leads them to sign off on nastier rhetoric and advertising than they ever thought they’d engage in. If all goes well, it’ll be a spectacle of insults, attacks, and character assassination. Should be great fun.

Lest you think I’m being too cynical, let’s not forget that just because you’re criticizing another candidate instead of touting your own virtues doesn’t mean you aren’t contributing something valuable to the debate. There are reasons to vote for candidates, but there are also reasons to vote against them — and if their opponents don’t tell us, we might not learn about them at all. As I heard a political consultant say once, no candidate is going to tell voters, “I hope you vote for me, but before you do, there are a few things you ought to know…” If Jeb Bush’s diligent opposition researchers discover that Scott Walker once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, then we should hope they’ll share that information with the rest of us.

So when the race gets adversarial, we shouldn’t reflexively condemn the fact that the candidates are criticizing each other. It’s important to remember that when candidates are being “positive,” they’re just as likely to be feeding the voters pabulum. In fact, research on political advertising I did in my former life as an academic showed that positive ads were less likely to concern policy issues and more likely to contain inaccuracies than negative ads. What’s more helpful to voters: showing them a soft-focus picture of my family and sharing my deep love for America, or telling them that the numbers in my opponent’s tax plan don’t add up?

There are better questions to ask than whether the candidates are being “positive” or “negative.” Is the criticism they’re making accurate and fair? Does it tell us something meaningful about the candidate being criticized? Is it relevant to the job he or she will be doing as president? If the answer to those is yes, then there’s nothing wrong with it.

For instance, if I were running against the newest entrant, Lindsey Graham, I might note that while he touts his experience in foreign policy as the foundation of his campaign, on foreign policy questions he’s perpetually wetting his pants in terror, which has some disturbing implications for his decision-making as president. Is there anything illegitimate about that?

But nobody’s naïve here — we know that the accurate, meaningful, and relevant criticisms are likely to be fewer than the ones charging candidates with sins like insufficient ideological purity or dangerous flip-floppery, not to mention the ones that delve into the candidates’ personal lives. And with so many candidates, the chances that the race will devolve into a thunderdome of pummelling and recrimination are pretty high. But in and of itself, that doesn’t mean the Republican primaries will be any less edifying than they would be if they were entirely civil and polite. At least it’ll be entertaining.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributing Writer, The Week, June 3, 2015

June 5, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The GOP Primary Will Be Bloody As Hell”: GOP Fratricide; If You Turn The Other Cheek, You’ll Get Slapped From Both Sides

“There will be blood.” That’s not just the title of the Oscar-winning 2007 film starring Daniel Day Lewis that I have watched about 20 times on cable. (I’m sorta of obsessed with it.) It’s also what we can expect to see in the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination.  Same goes for the Democratic presidential race if a well-funded challenger to Hillary Clinton emerges.

Both Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush wants us to believe, though, that they are better than that and would not stoop to such tactics to win the GOP presidential nomination.  These two holier-than-thou guys (especially Huckabee) want to be seen as the living, breathing manifestation of Ronald Reagan’s  famous 11th Commandment: “thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”  (FYI Reagan didn’t actually coin that expression, it was first formulated by the chair of the Republican Party in California in 1965, by why let facts get in the way of canonizing Reagan, right?  )

First there was Bush, who last week promised that he would not attack his fellow Republicans during the GOP primaries, noting that, “tearing down other people won’t help at all.”

And then came Huckabee. While campaigning over the weekend in New Hampshire, the former pastor urged his fellow GOP candidates to not engage in a Cain versus Abel type “fratricide.” He then preached to his fellow GOPers to avoid a “free for all” and “demolition derby” among each other.

I have to give it up for both of them. Not for their sentiment. But given their own respective track records of ripping apart their Republican competitors in primaries that they were able to keep a straight face while making these statements.

Let’s look at the history of these two. Bush’s last contested GOP primary was in 1994 when he was running for governor of Florida as part of a crowded field of candidates.  Bush, along with the other top-tier Republicans entries, entered into a “Clean Campaign Pledge” promising no personal attacks, just policy-based ones.

So there’s Bush a month before the September 1994 primary with a sizable lead over the pack. But then Bush “stunned” his fellow Republicans, as The New York Times noted at the time, by unleashing negative campaign ads on his top two GOP rivals. These ads alleged in part that the two other Republicans wanted to raise taxes- a claim they both vehemently disputed.  (If you run an ad distorting the policy position of your opponents, you are in essence launching a personal attack—especially over taxes in a Southern GOP primary!)

And then in a sheer display of unabashed elitism, the Bush ad stated that his two opponents “are taking millions of your tax dollars to pay for their political campaigns.”  The ad bragged that Bush wasn’t.

Technically Bush was correct: His opponents were taking public financing, and he wasn’t. Why? Well, because Bush was wealthy enough to bankroll his own campaign unlike his rivals.

But these attacks pale in comparison to Huckabee, who is expected to announce his presidential run on May 5.  When Huckabee says a person should turn the other cheek, apparently it’s so he can slap both sides.

During Huckabee’s 2008 presidential run, he unloaded a barrage of attacks on his GOP rivals; I’m talking Old Testament, wrath of God stuff. For example a day before the 2008 New Hampshire primary, Huckabee mocked Mitt Romney for being wealthy, saying, “I can’t write a personal check for tens of millions of dollars to impress you with what a great guy I am.”  Huckabee then ridiculed Romney for not knowing how to clean a gun.

And in the days before the Iowa caucus, Huckabee, reminiscent of what he’s saying now, tried to remain above the fray by holding a press conference to announce he would not run a campaign ad that called Romney “dishonest.”  Of course, Huckabee knew by holding a press event it would still get the barb out there anyway.

But worse, the Huckabee campaign then aired that very ad at least 10 times in various Iowa TV markets after publicly promising not to. When Huckabee’s campaign was asked why, the response was, “the campaign gave their best effort to pull the ad.  Perhaps they held a prayer circle and asked God to keep the ads off the air because a simple phone call to the TV stations would have presumably done the trick.

And after John McCain beat Huckabee in the South Carolina primary, Huckabee stood next to his pal Chuck Norris as Norris alleged that McCain was too old to be president.  I may not be an expert on Jesus like Huckabee, but I’m pretty sure I know what Jesus would not do, and that’s let Chuck Norris do his dirty work for him.

Look, there’s no need for Bush and Huckabee to insult our intelligence by pretending to better than they are on the issue of negative campaigning.  We all know this will be a vicious, bare knuckles brawl to the GOP nomination.  And given Bush and Huckabees’ own history of attacking fellow Republicans, the question is not: Will there be blood? The only question is: How much Republican blood will they spill?


By: Dean Obeidallah, The Dailt Beast, April 21, 2015

April 22, 2015 Posted by | GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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