Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Closing Argument Ad Is Also Mighty White


With the Iowa caucuses looming on the near horizon, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are not just duking it out with cannonfire about gun control, health care, and slavery reparations, they’re also submitting their “closing arguments” in the form of a couple of new ads that will run in Iowa in the coming weeks. Sanders’ opening bid is a Simon and Garfunkel-fueled bit of goosebumpery that’s been criticized by David Brock for being too white:

David Brock, a longtime Clinton supporter who founded the “super PAC” backing her, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the advertising presented a “bizarre” image of America focused on white voters. Mr. Brock also said the ad was a “significant slight to the Democratic base,” according to the news agency.

“From this ad it seems black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Brock told The Associated Press.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Stirring, but to Brock’s point, I counted about eight people of color, four of whom were featured prominently, and two of them were black women.

Hillary’s ad is a hard-driving, thoroughly convincing narrative about her qualifications, and her ability to beat back the Republicans, but not much different from Sanders’ ad, diversity-wise. By my count, there are almost exactly the same number of people of color in Hillary’s ad, although she benefits from one of them being President Obama:

“helped get health care for eight million kids”
“helped a city rise again”
“stared down hostile leaders around the world.”
“The one candidate for president who has everything it takes to do every part of the job.”
“stop the Republicans from ripping all our progress away.”
“I’m listening to you, I’m fighting for you, and with your support, I’m going to deliver.”

If the object now is to keep score of how many people of color are in an ad, Sanders’ ad is no whiter than Hillary’s closing argument, so maybe someone should give David Brock a sedative and wake him up when we get to South Carolina. It’s Iowa, for crying out loud. This is another example of a Hillary surrogate pressing a point that they ought to leave alone. Bernie already has a problem with non-white voters, he doesn’t need “help” from David Brock, especially when that “help” involves turning an issue that so many people care deeply about into so much political wordplay.

As for the ad itself, it’s a great general election ad, and a stark contrast to the hollow warm fuzzies of the Sanders ad, but it shortchanges Hillary and the viewer by completely nullifying the ambition that her campaign has shown thus far. The “rainbows and unicorns” attack on Sanders, which the Hillary campaign has been ramping up, really needs some modulation for Democratic voters. We like a little bit of rainbow, a little bit of unicorn, in our policy tapas plate.

The Hillary Clinton who proposed ambitious criminal justice and policing reforms, her own college affordability plan, and improvements to get Obamacare to universal coverage was nowhere to be found in this recent campaign clip:

I don’t want to overpromise. I don’t want to come out with theories and concepts that may or may not be possible. We don’t need any more of that. What we need is a sensible achievable agenda where we roll up our sleeves and we work together.

Hillary is right that much of Bernie Sanders’ agenda is politically unfeasible, which is fair to point out, but as a Democratic voter, I still want my totally electable candidate to be ambitious, to overpromise a little bit. I don’t want a champion who is going to fight a rear guard action, I want to hear both of these candidates say they can deliver me a Democratic House, or die trying. Bernie says this a little, but doesn’t have a realistic chance to do that.

The Hillary voters need to hear from is the one who knows how to deliver the goosebumps and the goods, the Hillary Clinton from this other recent web ad, the one who’s Fighting For You:

Put that in your Simon and Garfunkel and smoke it.

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