Blaming GOP House Speaker Boehner for shutdown, Dem attack ad compares him to crying baby

October 4, 2013

There have been plenty of jokes over the years about House Speaker John Boehner’s tendency to cry in public. But a new Democratic attack ad goes one step further, comparing Boehner to a weeping infant.

The 30-second-ad, entitled “Temper Tantrum,” opens with footage of a baby crying. The nearly hysterical crying continues uninterrupted for a full 15 seconds before a narrator intones, “Speaker John Boehner didn’t get his way on shutting down healthcare reform. So, he shut down the government and hurt the economy.”

“Temper Tantrum” calls to mind a similar critique made against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995. After feeling “snubbed” by former President Clinton during a ride aboard Air Force One, Gingrich moved forward with legislation that eventually led to the 28 day government shut down that year.

In response, the New York Daily News famously ran a front page cartoon image of Gingrich in a diaper screaming with the headline, “Cry Baby.”

For it’s part, “Temper Tantrum” is certainly a unique approach to an attack ad, coming from The House Majority PAC, a Democratic Super Pac that has raised more than $3 million dollars so far to oppose Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections.

While the debate over Obamacare has continued unabated since its passage in 2009, the rhetoric has recently turned up in the weeks leading up the government shut down.

Conservatives made national headlines with their strange and arguably effective “Creepy Uncle Sam” attack ad showing a man dressed in a disturbing Uncle Sam costume who walks in on a young woman awaiting a doctor’s exam. That ad has generated more than two million YouTube views since going live on September 18.

And there’s good reason why partisans of all stripes run attack ads: they work. Poll after poll shows that most Americans say they don’t like negative campaign ads. But every major study on their effectiveness shows that negative political advertising resonates with the average voter.

Whether it’s the famous “Daisy” ad from the 1960 presidential campaign, or more recent efforts like the 2004 ad showing Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry windsurfing, these sort of “name calling” attack ads have become almost expected in the political debate.

In fact, personal attack ads are so commonplace in the current political debate that some of them are formulated before a political event even takes place. For example, it was reported this week that conservatives in Texas had pre-emptively crafted an attack ad against State Senator Wendy Davis just in case Davis decided to run for governor in 2014. For the record, Davis announced her candidacy on Thursday and the ads are expected to begin airing this weekend.