In scary/gauzy images, the president does his best to shift the blame, take the credit and transmit concern about regular folks — waitresses, welders, firefighters, black children, black seniors, middle-class families — when he really spends more time helping his fat-cat corporate friends.
Mr. Bush continues to imply that we should be scared because we're not safe, so we need to keep him to protect our national security. Which seems like a weird contradiction. If he's so good at protecting us, why aren't we safe?
The president doesn't hesitate to exploit 9/11 in his ads, even as he tries to keep 9/11 orphans and widows in the dark about what really happened.
Mr. Bush's ad flashes a shot of firefighters removing some flag-draped remains of a victim from the wreckage at ground zero even as he prohibits the filming of flag-draped remains of soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. You might call the Bush ads, an homage to Ronald Reagan's famous ads, "Mourning in America."
Nothing like hypocrisy with high production values.
I'm assuming that the second phase of the ad blitz will highlight the man with the plan: Dick Cheney. The Cheney ads could appeal to the base, featuring rich white men in the back seats of limos, showing how hard it is to make the tough decisions for you.
Consider the possibilities:
ON THE SCREEN The spot lingers on a shot of the vice president's office door, closed and padlocked.
THE SCRIPT: "Big enough to tell you to butt out. Sensitive enough to know that special interests are truly special."
ON THE SCREEN The spot opens with a tightly focused shot of a headless pheasant, then dissolves into a shot of a big Dick Cheney putting a miniature Antonin Scalia into the pocket of his Elmer Fudd hunting jacket.
THE SCRIPT "Man enough to hunt with all the big dogs."
ON THE SCREEN The spot opens with Mr. Cheney checking his mailbox on Massachusetts Avenue to see whether he's received his annual deferred compensation check for $150,000 from Halliburton.
THE SCRIPT "Bighearted enough to forgive and forget Halliburton's pesky overcharges in Iraq for oil, and food for American troops."
ON THE SCREEN A picture of Mr. Cheney beaming at his family.
THE SCRIPT "Strong enough to put his base above his daughter and support a constitutional amendment against gay marriage."
ON THE SCREEN A close-up of Mr. Cheney accepting a huge N.R.A. check in his spider hole.
THE SCRIPT "Protective enough to safeguard the firearms industry from liberal potshots."
ON THE SCREEN While the "Pink Panther" music plays, we see a cartoon of the vice president, dressed in an Inspector Clouseau trenchcoat and a false mustache, wandering the desert with a spyglass.
THE SCRIPT "Steely enough to ignore the administration's own intelligence on the absence of W.M.D. and an Al Qaeda connection to Saddam. Farsighted enough to know that one of these decades, the rocks and trash that Iraqis are throwing at American forces will be replaced by flowers and palm fronds."
ON THE SCREEN A doctored photo of John Kerry, his war medals airbrushed out, canoodling with Jane Fonda at an antiwar rally.
THE SCRIPT "After getting four student deferments himself during Vietnam so he could attend to `other priorities,' he's still gritty enough to paint John Kerry as a spineless wimp on Vietnam and Iraq."
ON THE SCREEN A shot of Mr. Cheney driving the Nascar Viagra race car.
THE SCRIPT "Audacious enough to shred the American Constitution, even while he imposes one on Iraq."
Instead of speaking at the end to say he approved the message, as Mr. Bush does in his, Mr. Cheney comes on at the end of his spots with a paper bag over his head and says, "It's none of your beeswax who approved this message." Except in one, where a rotund man comes on and says, "I am Ahmad Chalabi, and I approved this message."
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company