March 1, 2008

"If there is a bear."

John Dickerson writes about Hillary Clinton's children sleeping ad:
The new Clinton ad tries to ... [expand] the group of voters who care most about experience. Remember, it's a dangerous world.

The Bush campaign never ran an ad like this when it was accused of scare-mongering during the 2004 campaign. (They preferred using animals.) Perhaps that's why Clinton campaign staffers have to insist they are not trying to frighten voters. While coyness is annoying, the essential question the ad asks is a fair one: Which of the candidates do you trust to keep his or her head when everyone around them is lighting theirs on fire, and at a time when your kid's safety could be on the line?
At "animals," Dickerson links to this Bush ad:



YouTube wisely serves up this other ad:



I wonder how dangerous the world would need to be before I wouldn't laugh at "If there is a bear"?

Anyway, it's interesting, isn't it? Democrats try to scare you with children and Republicans try to scare you with animals.

34 comments:

Slim999 said...

Democrats prefer human shields.

By the way ... if the phone in the White House is ringing at 3am, I sure hope it's not Monica calling Bill while my kid is asleep.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

Idealists think that bears are indifferent to children, while pragmatists think otherwise...

dbp said...

Bears like children; they think that they're delicious!

Middle Class Guy said...

Speaking of bears:

The president of the United States was mad over all the bad intelligence he was constantly getting. He decided to test all the intel agencies to see how good they really were.

He gathered the FBI, the CIA, and for a ringer two grizzled, old, cigar chomping detectives from the Chicago Police Department as ringers.

The test- find a rabbit in the forest. The CIA went in first. They co-opted the animals, hired spies, used every single piece of satellite and communication technology available. After one week, they determined that the rabbit did not exist, and there were indications that there never were any rabbits to begin with. Rabbits were a myth, like the Easter Bunny.

The FBI went in next. They hired animal informants, blanketed the forest with agents, and brought in the Hostage Rescue Team. One of the snipers accidently killed a hedgehog. They blasted the forest with noise, loud music, and finally tear gas; anything to get the rabbit to surrender. They finally burned the forest down, killing everything in it. In their report, they determined that if there was a rabbit, he was now dead and he deserved it.

Then the cops went in. Fifteen minutes later they came out of what was left of the woods. They were dragging a huge badly beaten bear. The bear kept crying out- ok, ok, I’m a rabbit, I’m a rabbit.

fabius.maximus.cunctator said...

middle class guy

That s not fair ! I danged near choked on my anti-influenza herbal tea laughing. With the cough I have that is no joke.
Where did you get that story ?

Chip Ahoy said...

I recall Democrats using animals too. They still do; ostriches that stick their heads in the sand is a favorite, reveling a knowledge about avifauna that originates in cartoons, and in the same ad, an invitation to come soar with the eagles. Come to think of it, buzzards soar a lot more than eagles do.

But my remark here is out of turn for I've been put off politics permanently.

Middle Class Guy said...

fabius.maximus.cunctator,

Oh, it's been around awhile. About five years ago I told it to an FBI agent. He did not think it was funny. Go figure.

joe said...

I am just curious if there is any line of criticism or questioning of Saint O that will be considered legitimate.

Daryl said...

I wonder how dangerous the world would need to be before I wouldn't laugh at "If there is a bear"?

Were you laughing in 1980?

George said...

"I wonder how dangerous the world would need to be before I wouldn't laugh at "If there is a bear"?"

Interestingly, the first sentence of the spot is "There is a bear in the woods." It's understood.

And if you look closely at the last scene, the man appears to have a rifle over his shoulder.

The bear is still dangerous, though perhaps not as much as in past.

It was just a few weeks ago that a Russian bomber buzzed a US aircraft carrier. Putin held a cheerless meeting with Rice and Gates in Moscow last fall. Rice earlier said, ""I think everybody around the world, in Europe, in the United States, is very concerned about the internal course that Russia has taken in recent years...The concentration of power in the Kremlin has been troubling" especially since Russia is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections next year."

Skyler said...

Okay, I'll bite. Why would you laugh at the line, "If there is a bear?"

Ann Althouse said...

joe said..."I am just curious if there is any line of criticism or questioning of Saint O that will be considered legitimate."

Did you read the Farrakhan post?

Did you read the post where I said O took the low road about McCain's citizenship?

That's just in the last few days.

Get a clue. I've been hard on all the candidates.

Scroll through just what's currently on the front page, then come back here and apologize, Joe.

rcocean said...

I loved the Russian Bear commercial.
Subtle and effective. And I always laugh at the last line because it mocks the lefties who denied there was a "bear in the woods".

I'm waiting for Obama's version of the "little girl and the Daisy" commercial against the Mad bomber.

Beldar said...

I'm really not sure why you laughed either, Prof. A. Maybe just because "if there is a bear?" seems like a silly, rhetorical question for the voice-over to be asking when the image on the screen clearly shows a real, live bear? Or because you think/thought that the symbolic danger of the metaphorical Bear (the Soviet Union) was being overplayed?

The Bear in the Woods commercial was part of Reagan's 1984 campaign against Mondale, not the 1980 campaign against Carter. In 1980, the Bear had just invaded Afghanistan. There wasn't much doubt that there was a Bear in 1980, and our then-president was busy standing up tall in opposing it -- by boycotting the Moscow Olympics, which certainly had those Soviets shivering in their bootskis.

By 1984, however, fellow travelers had had considerable success in selling the meme that the real danger to the world was ... Ronald Reagan, who then was in the process of deploying medium range Pershing II missiles into western Europe to match Soviet medium-range SS-20 missile deployments in eastern Europe. Like the "we had Saddam in his box" meme, there was a genuine attempt going on in 1984 to argue that the Soviets weren't dangerous, but that anyone like Reagan who suggested we be prepared to counter them was very dangerous. And there were huge anti-Reagan (and anti-American) parades and rallies, mostly in Europe but some in the U.S., many either organized or at least encouraged by the KGB.

I recall smiling at the commercial when it ran, but what I was smiling at was the incredible naïveté of anyone who could doubt that there was (still) a Bear. There were many doubters then; now those same people and their successors in a new generation continue to doubt, or at least downplay the menace from, this era's new threats. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are two of them.

JackDRipper said...

I'm waiting for Hillary's bear in the woods ad.

Great symbolism there - big scary black/brown thing in the woods waiting to eat your children.

Yes, more White racist imagery designed to play to your deep neuronal codes that construct "blackness/brownness" as the "Other" within the hegemonic gaze of the White , Western racist, sexist, homophobic, phallocentric, gynophobic, imperialist, Zionist culture of domination and death.

Just as a side not if you're ever deep in the woods remember - wolves are your friends, bears are you enemy. Always!

Cedarford said...

At work on Friday, a lot of people had seen the Clinton video and were commenting on it. So it was effective. Some of the comments:

If it was Obama's hotline, it would go through cheerful voicemail.
"If you would first like to hear an uplifting speech of hope and change from the Orator himself = Press 1"
"Habla Espnanol con Presidente Obama, nuero dos, por favor"
"If you wish to be directly inspired by President Obama, press 3"
"If you are a Muslim and calling at 3AM to confirm plans with the President, ensure you are on a secure, encrypted line."

A racy middle age female coworker -
"It's creepy. Shes fully made up, dressed, and wearing a pearl necklace at 3 AM. No woman is made up and dressed like that then. And the only ones wearing pearl necklaces in bed are women whose guys pulled out to soon."

My Director - "Any of you remember the Russian Bear Ad?"

Me - "High school I think I saw it. It was good. I don't think you can use an animal symbol these days though, on an enemy."

Director - "Maybe if Bush had used an animal symbol he would have sold his wars better."

Other guy - "Name a good animal to symbolize menacing Chinese and Muslims that wouldn't be instantly called racist. "

[Silence]

Trooper York said...

The is a bear in the woods..and he needs to take a shit...where will he go...will he shit in your lunch..in your camp site...or will he come to your car and shit there...you see, he might be a dumb animal...but he won't shit where he lives...some people won't see the shit...other people won't smell the shit...but Barack Obama will step in the shit...because he is just a lucky guy that way...so vote for Barack Obama because he will step in the shit so your childern won't have to...

I am Barack Obama, and I approved this shit...I mean this message.

(Hey did you see that ad from Hillary were she spelled out Pickaninie in a bowl of Campbell's alphabet soup, what's up with that shit)

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

Using children in political adds? No one has mentioned the best one, used by the Dems in the 1964 election: a little girl, picking petals off of flowers with an image of Goldwater's H-bomb exploding in the reflection of her eye.

Yea, that ad got us 4 more years of Johnson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyVn9k6d1og

Ann Althouse said...

Beldar said..."I'm really not sure why you laughed either, Prof. A. Maybe just because "if there is a bear?" seems like a silly, rhetorical question for the voice-over to be asking when the image on the screen clearly shows a real, live bear?"

The commercial starts "There is a bear in the woods"... then there's all this serious stuff... and it ends "if there is a bear." Why the doubt? I think the inflection could have been different and "if there is a bear" would have seemed to mean "because there is a bear" instead of "in case there is a bear." So it's the words and the inflection inserting incongruous doubt.

Ann Althouse said...

Also, Trooper York reminds me of why the commercial seems so funny from the first line. I can't hear "There's a bear in the woods" without thinking "Does a bear shit in the woods?" Then all the bear's wandering around after that seems to be a hilarious search for a place to go.

Trooper York said...

Well professor it's like the famous Polish joke:

Is a Bear Catholic?

Does the Pope shit in the Woods?

Middle Class Guy said...

If a bear shit in the woods, would Hillary still be right?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Then there is the Charmin (not charming) commercial about bears and TP .....and well, you know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=styCsH87qqw

George said...

That's why the ad is so wonderful. It has a fairy tale unreality about it...the calm voice..the heart-beat drum....the lumbering beast...the face-off at the end...you feel like a child in a cozy warm bed being tucked in by a strong, wise, and caring daddy. He's telling you how the world is and that he will keep you safe.

Remember the great story Leslie Stahl told...."Nobody heard what you said..."

Reagan and Deaver knew how to reach people. Too bad ol' Hollywood Fred Thompson's out of the game....

Also, notice at the very end...the bear, faced by the armed unyielding American, appears unsure, stops, and retreats. Nice.

Skyler said...

Ann,

Well, I am humor deficient, but the final line, "if there is a bear" always seemed to me to be a sort of an element to a syllogism.

There's a bear in the woods and we must be prepared if there is a bear in the woods.

But I do agree with always having a first reaction of thinking the bear is looking for a place to do what bears do. That's probably intentional, too. The scatalogical reference would trigger a reaction and cause the viewer to notice the ad.

Beldar said...

Thanks for the gracious reply, and perhaps I'm quibbling, Prof. A. I just wonder if you've forgotten those times.

Democrats in America, including Mondale and his campaign, were asserting that Reagan was being unnecessarily provocative, and that the Soviets weren't the risk he was making them out to be. Some in America, and many, many in Europe, were arguing that Reagan and America were the risks to world peace (which would miraculously appear if only we would "give it a chance" and "visualize it"). They were arguing, entirely seriously, that there was no Bear.

The ostensible point of the commercial was to say: Even if there's no threat from the Soviets, we ought to be prepared for one. But the "if there is a bear" line in the commercial was, as rcocean (2:41pm) wrote, gently mocking the lefties who were in denial.

When you ask "how dangerous the world would need to be before I wouldn't laugh" at that line, it seems to me you're putting yourself in the camp that the ad was mocking. Maybe you were, then -- were you a Mondale voter? did you think Reagan was a war-monger who was moving us toward Armageddon by deploying the Pershing IIs? Because it was that issue, very specifically, and the larger question of Reagan's across-the-board military buildup to match the Soviets -- which we now know was the proximate cause of the fall of the Soviet Union -- that this commercial was addressed to.

Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, do you now think there was really no Bear in 1984, and that if we'd continued cutting our military forces and following a Carteresque diplomacy, the Soviet Union would disbanded anyway and world peace would have blossomed? That would surprise me a great deal.

Beldar said...

Well, darn, let me extend and revise those remarks. Re-reading one of the 1984 presidential debates, I'm reminded that Mondale ostensibly supported the Pershing II deployment (and took flak from his party members about it). He opposed, however, the MX mobile missile and the B-1 bomber, along with much of the rest of Reagan's arms build-up.

Ann Althouse said...

Beldar said..."...I just wonder if you've forgotten those times. Democrats in America, including Mondale and his campaign, were asserting that Reagan was being unnecessarily provocative, and that the Soviets weren't the risk he was making them out to be. Some in America, and many, many in Europe, were arguing that Reagan and America were the risks to world peace (which would miraculously appear if only we would "give it a chance" and "visualize it"). They were arguing, entirely seriously, that there was no Bear."

Sure, I remember. I was one of them!

"When you ask "how dangerous the world would need to be before I wouldn't laugh" at that line, it seems to me you're putting yourself in the camp that the ad was mocking. Maybe you were, then -- were you a Mondale voter? did you think Reagan was a war-monger who was moving us toward Armageddon by deploying the Pershing IIs?"

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

"Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, do you now think there was really no Bear in 1984, and that if we'd continued cutting our military forces and following a Carteresque diplomacy, the Soviet Union would disbanded anyway and world peace would have blossomed? That would surprise me a great deal."

Whatever the actual situation was, it's not explained by showing a bear. Whether the threat was real or fake, the bear was ridiculous. And then to go through all that and end up with "if there is a bear"... I'm sorry, that will always seem funny to me.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blake said...

The good news is that Gentle Ben is back on E! courtesy Trooper!

What's awesome? Cheeta lives!

I wonder if anyone could get his endorsement. Maybe McCain, they're the same age.

joe said...

Ann, take it easy. I was not referring to you or this blog, I meant the general media fawning over O. Anytime there is criticism about his lack of experience, his empty platitudes delivered in ringing evangelical style, or any facet of Obama, there is a media backlash to the effect that it is unfair.
I read your blog daily and I am aware that you are pretty equally critical of all candidates.
I will try to be more precise in the future.

pst314 said...

"And then to go through all that and end up with 'if there is a bear'... I'm sorry, that will always seem funny to me."

Odd, because "if there is a bear" seems to be an arch reference to those who doubt the bear's existence.