By now, you may have heard the outrageous outrage from democrats about this ad from Pete Hoekstra, who is running for Senate in Michigan.
It features an Asian actress speaking in broken English, thanking Hoekstra’s democratic opponent for borrowing so much money from China, and helping their economy. As you might predict, democrats were very upset, claiming Hoekstra is using stereotypical images and sounds to play on the fears of xenophobic Americans. (You know, the ones clinging to their God and guns.)
The outrageous outrage may have peaked on the Larry O’Donnell show where he criticized the ad as an example of racial stereotyping, xenophobia, and nativism. He then called on members of SAG and AFTRA (actors unions) to pledge to turn down work on commercials like this. (Leave it to someone on MSNBC to believe that if the union doesn’t do it, no one else will.)
What Larry didn’t mention, was this campaign against Pat Toomey by the DSCC—the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee---waaaayyyy back in 2010. While trying to claim that Toomey cared more about Chinese jobs than American ones, the Democrats utilize both the classic “GONG!” and the oh-so-clever “fortune cookie.” (You have to admire the crunching cookie sound effect.)
I wrote about these ads at the time:
One of the funniest parts of both ads is that the main charge seems to be that Toomey voted to give normal trade status to China. When? 5/24/2000..as summarized by the New York Times in an article entitled:
THE CHINA TRADE VOTE: A CLINTON TRIUMPH
Of course, the charges in the two sets of ads are slightly different. Hoekstra is criticizing his opponent for spending too much. The democrats were criticizing Toomey for being happy about China modernizing their economy…and therefore not starving their people to death quite as often…or something.
But, the truth about both sets of commercials is that they are…dumb. There is no reason to add-in gong sound effects, fortune cookie crunches, and/or broken English to make a point about China. Hoekstra is probably a fine candidate, though I don’t know anything about him, but this is a bit of an overreach.
On the plus side, we at least now know how this sarcastic statement turned out (from that same blog in 2010):
(Surely, if a republican were to run an ad about China with a gong and the crunch of a fortune cookie, no one would protest.)
While there's a good argument to be made that this is a weak approach from Hoekstra, democrats simply have no moral ground to make it. It's as laughable as a Kardashian/Obama lecture on frugality.