Since late last week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has been circulating a comically lame political advertisement around Capitol Hill. Since the ad isn't actually running on TV anywhere, the message is clearly to members of Congress and their staff: "If you don't do as Bush says on the issue of telecom immunity, this is the kind of ad we will run against you in your home district in November."
Wait — this is your best shot? You're going to retake Congress by rerunning a bad episode of 24?
In fact, this flawed script has already been used — in Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson's failed attempt to hang on to her seat in 2006:
The ad failed the field-test miserably. Local newspapers and residents hated it. The New Haven Independent called it "the worst ad ever". The ad's target, Chris Murphy, swiftly made the obvious reply:
The result? Despite 24 years of incumbency and a massive financial advantage, Johnson lost her seat to Chris Murphy. Most observers believe her loss stemmed in part from backlash against what was perceived as an overly aggressive and dishonest ad campaign.
Make no mistake, the GOP's message on terrorist surveillance and telecom immunity is a losing one. We'd like to remind them of the US's last election cycle, in which they ran saber-rattling "national security" ads like these across the country, only to consequently suffer their worst electoral defeat in years. In district after district, the tactic failed — because Americans of all parties knew lying and deception when they saw it.