Smashing the Courts

Today I received an email from, a grassroots political action committee that regularly keeps me progressively in the know from the desk chair comfort of my email inbox. Convenient links allow me to sign important letters to Congress and petitions with the simple click of the mouse. During the 2004 election, MoveOn was a powerful mobilizing force, signing up thousands of voters and keeping even the most cynical liberals hopeful. On the dark morning of November 3 (see also: "Black Wednesday"), I didn't even have time to ponder the future of MoveOn before an email reassured me that even though the world may have paused in a tornado of hopelessness for a second, everyone is going to move on and keep on fighting the good fight.

Since then, MoveOn's ambitions have only strengthened, its momentum only accelerated into the Makings of a Disaster, otherwise known as President Bush's second term. **Commence (surprise!) Tom Delay digression. My Dad and I have already sealed Congressman Delay's fate to some second-rate Tricky Dick debacle. He's got watchdog reporters sleeping at his door, bugging him singing church hymns in the shower, writing up stories in the Times Police-style about every breath he takes, every move he makes. Former allies from his own party praying for his downfall, not to mention he's broken the law, and he's guilty. Why he even continues to show up to NRA Conventions (why??) mystifies me.

But what is most interesting to me is that Delay is a total publicity gigolo now, and he's clearly milking it beyond overtime. Back in October, when I was initially touched by his mission for America, his righteous vision of bringing wholesome Christian values to displace our government, I was unbelievably enamored with his power. Not just anyone can con his state into redefining Congressional districts and give the mob boss treatment to all the lobbyists on the Hill. But back then, he maneuvered behind the curtain, short-changed on credit because his power was invisible hand influence. Admittedly, I felt a little annoyed when I talked about him so passionately to others, only to stare back at blank faces when I would name drop. "Who?" But I knew, deep down, that he was waiting for the right moment to make his move into the public eye. Then he discovered Terri Schaivo, and the rest is history. Now that he's a superstar, I wonder if he remembers a girl with a blog who wanted to organize her own political action committee in his honor. But now there's no need. His career grave can't stop digging.

But back to moving on. In the email I received this morning, MoveOn is predictably tackling the anti-conservative Supreme Court Justice cause with "powerful" TV ads, asking caring folk like me for money to help fund the airtime. However, after reading the transcribed audio/video description of the "Smashing the Courts" ad, I have to say that I don't feel right lending my wholehearted support, let alone any money I don't have, to this ad's message. It is misleading. And in my mind, the deceitful, conniving tactics of corporate marketing should not infiltrate the ardent, informative, somewhere-between-ob-and-sub-jective political ad, unless, of course, your name is George W. Bush and you think revamping Social Security qualifies as emergency enough to visit sixty U.S. cities as quickly as you can without losing more than five points in approval ratings. MoveOn, I love what you do...but I've got to know, what are you trying to do with the "Smashing the Courts" ad?

My comments below are denoted in bold with a signature ***

"Smashing the Courts" Script


"We see the word "filibuster" forming on the screen. Then we see it being smashed by a gavel."

***Nice image. Powerful. I'm captivated, alarmed, incensed! But many Americans don't know exactly what a filibuster is...some might have a too-general idea...some may deduce it to be what your dustbuster becomes when it's full. I mean, I first remember learning about it in eighth grade, but its meaning never fully sank in until I saw Jimmy Stewart perform one in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As a mere word, the filibuster's role as a victim is weakened because its meaning is up in the air - unknown, notorious, and too dusty.

"Then we see the words: "Right to Privacy. Clean Air. Clean Water. Minimum Wage. Workplace Safety." Each phrase is smashed by a judge's gavel."

***I know this ad is trying to be super powerful and move people to action, but this is a little too scary, because these are not just words being smashed. Will it really be that bad? It's too soon to tell, but according to an article I read in the Atlantic recently, the biggest target of a more conservative Supreme Court would be the environment, because the majority of judges will side with private property owners every time there's a dispute. Which is scary enough without "Right to Privacy" thrown in there. Might as well just fade out on my Social Security and bank account number (**quick question: if Bush overhauls Social Security, will we have SS numbers anymore? Aside from my DNA, those nine unique digits are all I've got as far as being an individual on the verge of retirement. Are we headed for the Philip K. Dick-envisioned age of barcodes and government-monitored mind-scanners?).


Voiceover: "A 200-year-old Senate rule is all that stands between you and extremist judges."

***Ahhh! Please stop. Drama overload! Extremist judges? Can we please just use this to make a movie trailer...and a movie? Fictional escapism. Was it all just a dream?

"Radical Republicans are trying to break that rule."

***Another lesson from eighth grade U.S. history. The Radical Republicans. I remember laughing because they were, like, totally radical, but then my teacher told us that they weren't that funny, and I came to know "radical" as more than a word to be used with "like" and "totally." Radical Republicans sought extreme anti-South action in the time of the Civil War. Why we're revisiting this label in a whole new context has lost me from the purpose of the ad. I prefer "Recklessly Rational Republicans" or "Rip Roarin' Republicans" or "Ridiculously Righteous Republicans."

"Why? So they can push through judges who will rule against: Your right to privacy. Clean air. Clean water. The minimum wage. Workplace safety. A few moderate Republicans are standing up to the radicals. What will your senators do?"

***Herein lies the faulty presumption that would kill the intent of this ad before it could make it on the air. Call me cynical, but this ad is trying to call on American Joes and Marys to phone up or write their Senators and urge them to prevent this "Smashing of the Courts" from happening. Optimistically assuming that a few people actually pick up the phone or get a letter at the bottom of a mile-high stack in front of the intern, I can't see it making an impact, especially since this ad is targeted at Democrats (the whole Radical vs. Moderate wordplay is bound to polarize most Republicans).

"(The final ad script may differ slightly from the text above.)"

*** (sigh) Wow, I hope so. I can't even imagine actually watching this ad. Nightmares! Or worse, Jerry Fallwell in a wig.

Intentions are bold, timing is right, and MoveOn definitely needs to keep on fighting the good fight, but trying to scare TV audiences with a Radical Republican authoritarian neo-Christian apocalypse is not going to incite enough political action to make a difference. Any ad titled, "Smashing of the Courts" implies that the entire U.S. judicial system is not "smashing," as in the favorable British slang adjective, not even "smashing" as the positively drunken British slang adjective, but "smashing" as in on the eve of destruction, given to an evolution-banning (nothing is allowed to evolve or naturally select without God's consent), abortion-preventing, civil rights-threatening free-for-all.

But on the off-chance that my year in the movie marketing business has rubbed off and I'm right about the sheer uselessness of the scare-tactic MoveOn ad, what can prevent the "Smashing of the Courts"? I don't know...for a cynic I'm optimistic, not that we have much choice. I put my trust in the fact that America has gotten to know shady Tom Delay and how bad he is for the country. I put my trust in the Senate because John Kerry, Edward Kennedy, and Barbara Boxer are there. I don't know. November 3 might have failed us all, but in the months since, no matter what bad news feeds my way, I'm feeling a comforting, healthy combination of anger and hope. But as I'm only one unknown who writes but is not read, I'm kind of angrily hoping that MoveOn will start skipping Fear-based Political Tactics 101.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home