Jim Messina and “the single most infamous congressional ad in contemporary history”

The Conservatives have hired Barack Obama’s election strategist Jim Messina to advise on their 2015 general election campaign. The Guardian describes it as “a coup for the Tory team to have been able to hire a strategist who proved such a vital figure in Obama’s presidential campaigns in both 2008 and 2012.”

Those unfamiliar with Mr Messina’s work can watch an example of his kind of ad below. It’s from the 2002 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee race between Max Baucus and Montana Republican Senate nominee Mike Taylor, and has been described by Salon.com as “the single most infamous congressional ad in contemporary history”:

Renowned in political circles, the ad set porno music to 20-year-old footage of a video from Taylor’s cosmetics business. The video showed Taylor in a leisure suit rubbing cream into another man’s face. As the spot faded to black, it showed Taylor then seeming to reach for the man’s crotch as a voice-over said “Mike Taylor — not the way we do business in Montana.”

Thanks to the deliberate choice of music, the footage of man-on-man physical contact and the voice-over message, the ad is considered the epitome of homophobic demagoguery — a spot ostensibly about Taylor’s Department of Education loans, but really designed to raise questions about Taylor’s sexuality in a culturally conservative state. Summarizing the national uproar over the ad, the Denver Post at the time noted that “only the most naive adult would miss the implication that Taylor is a homosexual” and that clearly “the supposedly inclusive Democrats deftly played on the right’s homophobia.”

Here’s the ad

Taylor dropped out of the race straight afterwards and Baucus was elected unopposed. Baucus denied any responsibility for the ad — as did his chief of staff, Jim Messina. But fast-forward 10 years, to 2012, and Baucus was a little less self-denying:

“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!”

I’m sure he and the Tory party will be very happy together.

Hat-tip: Mark Pack – New Tory campaign advisor Jim Messina and his “anti-gay secret” as Salon.com puts it.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in LDVUSA and YouTube.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/35606 for Twitter and emails.
Advert

2 Comments

  • Going from Obama to the Tories…its like when Bruno worked for Vinick against Santos…

  • Clear Thinker 6th Aug '13 - 9:06am

    Are you sure you’ve got the right ad? I didn’t see anyone grabbing anyone’s crotch, and what on earth is “porno music”?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 18th Dec - 4:13pm
    I think "spare room subsidy" was only ever a propaganda term (just like "bedroom tax", of course!) -- given there never was a "spare room...
  • User Avatarmatt (Bristol) 18th Dec - 3:37pm
    Can I make a small additional point about EVEL which I don't think I have seen elsewhere? What would happen to House of Lords reform...
  • User AvatarJames Harper 18th Dec - 3:35pm
    Julian I think I agree with you almost entirely. I'm really just trying to be a bit provocative. I guess I don't think that, strictly...
  • User AvatarRob Gershon 18th Dec - 3:30pm
    I'm really disappointed in this take on it. Bedroom Tax has become a punchy headline issue because, as the DWP Interim report from earlier this...
  • User AvatarJulian Tisi 18th Dec - 3:20pm
    One of the best articles I've read about this was while I was in Canada a month ago - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/kelly-fifas-comical-attempted-whitewash-still-indicts-russia-and-qatar/article21571684/
  • User AvatarJulian Tisi 18th Dec - 2:58pm
    I disagree completely with the idea that scenario 3 is the worst outcome. Far from it, I think it's the best we can hope for....