Jim Messina is learning the Bob Shrum lesson: England is where US political operatives go to fuck up their good reputations (or, in Shrum’s case, to confirm their bad ones). Now that Messina is consulting for David Cameron, this ad he made for the 2002 Montana Senate race, where he ran Baucus’ campaign, is getting some unwanted attention. As one of the YouTube commenters said, I’m not sure if it’s homophobic or 70’s-phobic, but it’s being described as homophobic in the British press.
That 2002 campaign does sound like a real shitshow:
Messina will go a long way to win, as the two leading stories from his Montana career suggest. Both involve the 2002 Senate race he ran for Baucus, a Democrat seeking reelection in a terrible year for Democrats. To protect Baucus, Messina had him refuse to participate in any debate that didn’t also include a fringe third-party candidate who’d inadvertently dyed his skin blue with homemade antibiotics—a guaranteed distraction.
The other story involved his Republican challenger, a state senator named Mike Taylor, who was the target of an ad so devastating it got national attention. The ad charged Taylor with having embezzled student loans from a cosmetology school he’d owned in the 1980s. But its force lay in the music and imagery. Set to a porn soundtrack, it featured snippets of an old television ad for Taylor’s hair salon that showed the candidate clad in a medallioned, open-shirted disco outfit, massaging lotion into another man’s face, and then appearing to reach toward the man’s crotch, as a narrator intoned, “Not the way we do business in Montana.”
“Jim is tough,” Baucus says. “I’ll never forget when he showed me that ad. We were in Bozeman in a motel. The curtains were drawn. He said, ‘Max, what do you think?’ They were afraid I wasn’t going to like it. I loved it!” […]
It might seem surprising that Messina is consulting for the Tories but really how different is that from running Max Baucus’ campaign?
Cash is king
Baucus won, so Messina knows what he’s doing, I guess. I read that he signed onto Hillary’s pre-campaign.
Britain has very different electorates, different institutions, different styles and lengths of campaigns, and British attitudes and sensibilities are pretty different from Americans’. US political consultants and pundits usually end up on some of those rocks when they saunter over to ply their wares.
Put another way, if he had any sense he’d realize that Cameron is already foundering and the Tories’ coalition partner is about as popular as the clap.
The thing is, Cameron really is awful. Closing libraries; instituting swingeing tuitions; privatizing the royal mail; slashing benefits for the poor, the sick, the halt, the lame – he is genuinely doing a lot of damage, which can happen with an essentially unicameral legislature that is also the executive, especially when the other party is splintered, discredited by war and by having embraced the bankers (heck, they just went to war with their country’s biggest union, for reasons that rather disappear once you look at them closely). Cameron is not someone a Democratic consultant should be working for, even a Democratic consultant who previously worked for Max Baucus.
Honestly, if he’s going to sell out he shoulda gone big – Philip Morris, maybe, or Halliburton.
I hope you’re right – but (as an American who follows British news a bit) – Cameron seems far more popular than any of his policies, and more importantly the opposition has completely disappeared up its own backside. Do you really think Milliband can get the job?
@Warren Terra: Those companies already own the gop. They dont need messina
You are now reading this in Ron Howard’s voice.
@Baud: I don’t think Messina is part of Team Inevitable. A couple of other former Obama workers are, but not Messina.
The ad: It would’ve been political malfeasance not to use that video. The focus is on the fraud this guy supposedly committed. Not homophobic at all. Just did a search and lo and behold, looks like this dust-up about the ad was being pumped last year by who else but David Sirota. Anything to rip Obama about, Sirota is there, and even just makes stuff up if need be.
@Warren Terra: Miliband is about the only thing Cameron has going for him. But Brits vote in parliamentary elections less often than we think for party leaders, more often for local issues. And there’s nothing more local than the depressing economy and shrinking wages all over the UK. The Tories said they could make things better and they’ve made them worse; they’ll have a tough time convincing voters that prosperity is just around the corner. Recall that the GOP tried to portray Roosevelt as a lightweight political dilletante in ’32, but after 3 years of no improvement the public was ready to try almost anything. If Labor can get organized, they could send Cameron packing.
C.R.E.A.M. doesn’t always rise to the top.
I think I remember that. The guy was ‘treating’ himself with colloidal silver, which was supposed to cure something or another but also does have that blue-staining tendency.
Oh, and I think ‘fringe third-party’ was ‘Libertarian’.
This is somehow Obama’s fault. We should exterminate the English Bulldog in retaliation. For what I don’t know, but ‘Merica.
Whatever happened to his pal Loggins?
Maybe the ad was a commentary on Taylor’s lousy production values.
Nicely played. I envisioned the stair truck stopping in front of a non-descript strip mall used as Baucus campaign headquarters, festooned with signs on the windows, with Lindsey stepping out…
@Chyron HR: Would have loved to have watched those debates and to have learned exactly what the blue-skinned gentleman was advocating for. Only in America!
I really don’t see the ad as particularly homophobic–the guys have pornstaches but then everyone did in the 1970’s. Frankly, if anyone had that footage it would have been political malpractice not to use it–like the image Rumproast kept using of Mitt Romney snapping on blue rubber gloves in the candy store during a photo op. Some things are just too funny–wide lapels, 70’s suits, not to be used in a campaign.
@Patricia Kayden: Blue skinned gentlemen? Surely not only in America. Could have been Woad.
Meh…British Tories are still more liberal than Max Baucus…
@Cassidy: I was away from my computer all weekend so I didn’t see the shots how until last night. Is your goal really to pattern your commenting after the David Koch guy?
@Omnes Omnibus: “shots how” should be “shitshow.” Fucking autocorrect.
Oh noes! Messina used really embarrassing footage of his candidate’s opponent (shot by said opponent) in a substantive ad that effectively ridiculed the opponent, all wrapped in a package with pretty good production values and humor Whatever shall we do?
This is a nothingburger of a controversy
Except for the fact that Messina is working for Cameron.
Happy birthday week, Omnes.
Rumor has it …
@Omnes Omnibus: Just doing my part. It takes a village.
I thought it was something like green ideas sleep furiously or whatever that was.
When are our signatures going to remain so I don’t have to keep typing every comment twice after it refuses to let me submit?
Just One More Canuck
@Cassidy: “takes a village” to mock an idiot?
@Cassidy: Of course, you realize that you aren’t making the problem any better, right? I’ll stop being a hall monitor/ombudsman now. Do what you gotta do.
I am not naive enough to believe that Baucus or Messina were unaware that this add taps into both 70s phobia and homophobia, but the main thrust of this add is good old fashioned sleaze. Taylor embezzled money. He’s a crook. Now here’s some bonus footage of him cleverly edited to make it look like he’s practicing the world’s oldest profession.
I never understood why that ad was supposedly homophobic. Did the guy really look like that? Yes. Do gays look like that? Well, maybe some did back in the 70’s, but no more than anyone else–it wasn’t a particularly gay look. The assumption behind calling it a homophobic ad seems to be that the guy looked ridiculous, and therefore looked gay–that’s a homophobic assumption itself.
Clearly not the finest hour for principled political discussion by virtuous statesmen, but I don’t think the ad is homophobic. It looks more like mockery of Taylor’s questionable past with a strong hint of once a crook, always a crook.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@gogol’s wife: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
@rea: A man running a beauty salon and cosmetology school? That’s one of the biggest stereotypes out there. A lot of people of my generation (or older) would never make it to the student loan fraud.
@gogol’s wife: I just changed a setting that should help with keeping your email/url/etc.
@Omnes Omnibus: Who said that’s what I’m trying to do. And why is it suddenly a problem now? This kind of toxic thread derailment has been going on for a while and it’s been made clear that this is what they want. I’m happy to be a team player.
@Ben Cisco: All that made me think of was the Prince song. I have no idea why.
@Cassidy: Man, am I glad I missed those threads, hearing about them has been bad enough. But seriously, who is “they” in your comment above? ‘Cause “they” sure doesn’t include me! Thread derailment kind of stinks, and given that I’ve enjoyed your comments in the past, I really don’t want to add your nym to the list of Those I Scroll Past Without Reading!
Tell ’em, Avi.
@Cassidy: I said my piece above.
I don’t think this tactic of yours is working. First, the only comment I made in those threads was to recount an experience I had with a pit bull in which it almost killed my dog. I acknowledged that I am emotional about it and not fully objective. I laid the blame squarely with irresponsible owners and breeders and never called for “genocide”. Had we discussed pit bulls in the six months after the attack when my dog’s eye wouldn’t close and I had to apply drops constantly because his eye was dry and irritated or when the skin on his neck was dying and he had to have repeated surgeries and skin grafts, or when my kids would cry because they were traumatized by seeing the attack–I guarantee you I would not have been willing to even discuss it. The fury and other emotions were way too raw at that point. I also guarantee you that if my dog had not put his body between that vicious dog and my children, and one of my children had been maimed or killed – I would never get over that and would not now be willing to try to learn and dialogue with pit bull owners.
Can you at least acknowledge that there are some in this community who have legitimate reason to be raw emotionally about this subject? I can acknowledge that there are some pit bull owners who are part of this community who are responsible and conscientious. And I would encourage you to consider that there is a problem with pit bulls. Even if it is not entirely warranted or justified, there is the perception that pit bulls are a problem. So that means that being an advocate for pit bulls requires dealing with the perceptions because they are not going away. And if there is some truth behind the perceptions, being an advocate for pit bulls means dealing with it. There are disreputable breeders and irresponsible owners. People who want to adopt or rescue pit bulls must be educated about what is required to do so safely. Would you agree with that statement? I also think that more regulation and sunshine about breeding is desperately needed. I don’t know how to accomplish this but it really has to be done. I would be happy to dialogue with you about this and will ask the front pagers if any of them are willing to create a thread to do so. I don’t think that constantly firing barbs and generalizations into every thread is going to do anything but create more discord and make people less likely to want to learn or challenge their opinions and assumptions.
@Cassidy: fuck off you freak
A tantrum is just that. It is not about discussion, compromise, ideals, reality.
If it is your own kid you have a few ways to deal with it. Some work better than others.
If it is someone else’s kid the only way is to ignore it and hope that it doesn’t escalate.
But is is nice to try and open discussion. In my mind, in this case fruitless, but that’s just me.
Another Holocene Human
Am I wrong for laughing at this ad? It’s hard for me to get outraged because it just isn’t pinging my gaydar. Straight people used to dress like that–own it.
There are plenty of straight guys in cosmetology/hairdressing.
And nobody reached for anybody’s crotch.
The flap is starting to remind me of the time BDSM activist, Connecticut resident (seriously… is it in the water supply? just asking) and Certified NetKook Laura Goodwin went ballistic on the Internets because she was convinced that Kirk snaps a towel at Spock in the scene where Spock confronts the “lamb Kirk” in the classic STAR TREK episode “Enemy Within”. Also, God made that raincloud look like an elephant and it’s staring at me. Why won’t it stop staring at me?
Another Holocene Human
For example, in GB they ran an ad about pube-scaping with women of different races that apparently was well received there despite what they implied about the Black lady’s pubes. It quickly went viral on the online outrage circuit in the US for being horrifying, eye-burning, and racist as fuck. Just because we supposedly speak the same language does not mean the culture is one and the same.
Another Holocene Human
This has got to be it: “Mow the Lawn”:
Clearly Britons eat babies and are the real animals.
Another Holocene Human
@Chyron HR: He was some sort of natural cures right wing paranoid who was glugging collodial silver which can cause a condition called argyria which makes your skin appear blue or corpse-like.
The colloidial silver sellers of course claim that it’s “impurities” that cause this condition, but it is, of course, elemental silver. It once had a legitimate use as an anti-biotic but we have much better ones now. (Mercury used to be used as medicine too.)
There’s quite an overlap between nutty health ideas and right wing paranoid politics.
Anyway, if this is the blue guy I’m thinking of he tried to shoop his portraits to look oranger and accused the media of faking his gray-skinned images.
It’s kind of astounding that anyone would do that to themselves.
Another Holocene Human
@dmsilev: which was supposed to cure something or another
As anyone should have learned by now, Natural Cures “THEY” Don’t Want You To Know About do, in fact, cure everything, including mortality itself.
Another Holocene Human
@Patricia Kayden: Would have loved to have watched those debates and to have learned exactly what the blue-skinned gentleman was advocating for.
I’ll put $5 on gold-buggery.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@Another Holocene Human:
There are now, because the licensing and education has merged. The ad used in the ad (whoa, recursive) is from the early days of that merging, when most people considered it OK to spend a lot of time at the barber shop talking sports, but you’d better not be spending that time actually getting worked on. Getting a perm? (Which the men in the ad clearly had done.) Talk about unmanly!
Only male cosmetologist I saw in the 1970s was both flamboyant and limp-wristed. A walking, talking stereotype.
@MomSense: I am completely sympathetic and have said as much. You will never convince me that the eradication of a breed is necessary or reasonable because people are assholes. But that’s not the major issue, at least not anymore. It’s the hypocrisy and arrogant laziness that permeates this place. It’s the absentee catlady and his two sycophantic fper’s. And no, I’m not going anywhere.
@taylormattd: Why so angry? I said nothing that wasn’t true.
@Another Holocene Human: We had a mailman who was using that stuff and recommended it to me for everything from hay fever to arthritis. He called it Sea Silver. The blueing effect was less obvious on him because he was an African American but there was a grayish hue if you looked carefully.
@Cassidy: You’re acting like a psychopath with a pitbull fetish/obsession. Fuck off.
I certainly did not make that case. I do think that disreputable breeders are doing harm to the breed but I never called for eradication.
So why would you copy that model if you object to it so? Repeating the same formula of comment over and over again on every thread is sort of a lazy way to deal with your concern, no?
I never suggested you go anywhere so I don’t know why you would say this. I have always appreciated your perspective on things and I was hoping we could find a more constructive way to talk about this. I’m also hoping that I can challenge my own assumptions about this issue because I do realize how personal experience is coloring my perceptions.
What do you do for a living? You should totally write T-shirt catchphrases! Your stuff is FUCKING GENIUS, man.
Did they run any ads showing Baucus shearing sheep?
That’s how real men do buisness in Montana.
By the way, that’s not an exaggeration. Meet Stan Jones:
Libertarians. Gotta love’em — at least for the entertaining freak show aspect, if nothing else.
@JGabriel: from your link:
What the fuck, was there even an LP primary there that year?!?
Yes, it’s homophobic. By the standards of the time, it was completely playing on gay stereotypes. But the point is made even for 21st Century sensibilities when the last shot slows down so the ad ends on a frozen shot of Taylor seeming to reach down into the crotch of the seated man. Shame on Max Baucus for running this ad.
Romney’s campaign started to go wobbly in the UK.