A new frontier for pro-life politicians

This week’s post over at Communities Digital News is about some recent polling that shows that many Americans have views on abortion that aren’t as easily categorized as many politicos think. This is likely true of other issues as well. Some things simply transcend politics, so the fight needs to be in a non-political arena. Legislation and policy is certainly important, but not all-inclusive.

Most policy is made by politicians who understand the electoral implications of being for or against something. For example, many conservative politicians wouldn’t have supported a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy; now you couldn’t win a Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in most states, let alone President, if you oppose such a ban.

Through crisis pregnancy centers and post-abortive counselling organizations, the broader pro-life movement handles the non-policy side of the debate well. Political organizations who want to move public opinion on the abortion issue should embrace this.

That may be non-traditional for politics, but it’s ultimately how opinions change.

Nostalgia takes 20 years

ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat isn’t what I would call appointment television, but it’s kind of interesting because of when it’s set: the mid-1990’s. The sitcom is set in the past and told through modern-day narration (like The Wonder Years and The Goldbergs); and following an Asian-American family that had just moved to Orlando.

“Wait – the mid-1990’s? For a nostalgia sitcom? Surely,the world has gone mad.”

I thought the same thing too when I first tuned in. But then I thought some more and it actually makes perfect sense.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Happy Days took us back to the 1950s and 1960s. The Wonder Years aired from 1988-1993, with the events of the show happening exactly 20 years prior. The early 1990s years of The Simpsons evoked images of the 1970s such as Homer and Marge’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” Prom (you can make your point about Artie Ziff in the comments, Comic Book Guy). That 70s Show premiered later in the decade. In the 2000s, Family Guy’s 1980s cutaway references ranged from The Transformers to  The Facts of Life.

It looks like the rule is that nostalgia is fondly remembering the past, so long as the past was at least 20 years ago.

Something Hillary got right

It’s been a fun week to make fun of Hillary Clinton, but she knocked one aspect of her video announcement clean out of the park. As I discussed in my latest Communities Digital News post, Clinton only appears onscreen in her own video for fifteen seconds out of 2:15, and in that time she is either addressing the camera or talking with voters.

Except, she isn’t talking to the voters. In every shot, they are talking to her.

Many political ads and videos have a shot of the candidate meeting with supporters. Usually, in those shots the candidate is dispensing wisdom to a small group of supporters. Check out the very first shot from this ad from Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign:

Candidates must do this to show that their leadership. (Though every time I see this type of shot, the audience looks like they are waiting for the candidate to pause so they can break out of the conversation.) But everything her week-old campaign has done so far has made it obvious Clinton is bending over backward to give the impression that she isn’t full of herself.  So in her video, she listens – sometimes with crazy eyes, but she listens.

Surely, Republican candidates expect to be vilified by Democratically aligned special interest groups in the upcoming cycle. For conservative candidates looking to prove their empathetic chops, subtle visual cues like this can go a long way.

Announcing the start of a campaign and/or murder spree



“Death, it comes to us all,” Hillary explained, resting her coffee cup on the table. “For all our advances in medicine and health care, life has a 100% mortality rate. It’s the only thing that really binds the haves and have-nots, you know? The deck may be stacked for the rich, and the system may be rigged so the rich get richer, but no one escapes the end.”

Hillary leaned in, her eyes still wide and unblinking. “We are all equal in death.”

She paused to let it sink in, the smile was still painted across her face.

“After I finish this coffee, I’m getting into my van. I’m going to travel from one end of this country to the other, bringing true equality to the nation. There will be plenty of people out there who want to stop me, small minded people who don’t understand what we’re accomplishing. But one day, history will look back on this trail of death we are forging at appreciate the revolution.”

Hillary took another sip of her coffee. “You’re wondering why I’m telling you all this.”

She leaned in closer, her voice lowering to a throaty, raspy whisper.

“It starts with you.”

Clinton’s gift to Rubio keeps giving

Friend of the Program Matt Lewis said Marco Rubio owed Hillary Clinton a thank you note for announcing her candidacy the day before the Florida Senator threw his hat into the ring. The low-key Clinton announcement underscored Rubio’s forward-looking message without overshadowing it.

When word leaked that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was planning to announce her candidacy on Sunday — one day prior to Sen. Marco’s scheduled announcement — the conventional wisdom seemed to be that she might overshadow him. Instead, she turned out to be the perfect foil… “Just yesterday,” Rubio said, “a leader from yesterday began a campaign for President by promising to take us back to yesterday. But yesterday is over, and we are never going back.”

He’s definitely right, but there’s more than just the contrast with Clinton making the speech more colorful. More than any other Republican contender so far, Rubio got to talk about Republicans versus Democrats. Clinton was in the news during his announcement. When his Senate colleagues Ted Cruz and Rand Paul announced in the previous weeks, the natural question (and the tone of the ensuing coverage) was where they fit in the Republican primary field.

That let Rubio elevate his rhetoric a bit at the outset. For a little while, he can position himself as the adult among the rabble, while the others carve up intra-party factions with labels like “tea party” or “libertarian.”

It may not last, but it’s a heck of a way to start.

“And I’m ‘almost got sued by Comcast Rob Lowe’…”

A few months back, as the wife and I watched DVR’d TV shows on a cold winter’s eve, a funny thing happened: We stopped fast forwarding through a commercial break to watch one of the ads.

It was the latest Rob Lowe DirectTV spot at the time. But last week, DirecTV ended that campaign after Comcast objected to some of the commercials’ claims.

What made those ads so good wasn’t that they were funny enough to get you to stop skipping through a commercial break. (You can still watch them all, incidentally, on DirecTV’s YouTube channel.) When they launched last fall, the alternative Rob Lowes stayed on point; their unfortunate circumstances or ridiculous behavior tied directly to the shortcomings of cable. For example, “Creepy Rob Lowe” was “down at the rec center, watchin’ folks swim” because his cable was out:

(By the way, is Creepy Rob Low related to Joe Biden? Or a time-traveling Young Joe Biden?)

Compare that to recent entries like “Total Deadbeat Rob Lowe,” whose divorce and back alley dice games do nothing to highlight cable’s shortcomings. After loaning his car to a drifter, “Poor Decision-Making Rob Lowe” would miss his show even if he had DirecTV. The commercials were still funny, but they were becoming unfocused and non-product centered.

In other words, they were about to lose their effectiveness.

Comcast may have done DirecTV a big favor by forcing the campaign to end before it got silly.