So Ron Johnson has a new ad out. Here it is:
Pretty straightforward, nothing earth-shattering.
But I always get a kick out of the part of Johnson’s ads where he has to say “I approved this message.” As we know, the only reason Johnson has to waste those four seconds is because of Russ Feingold.
The “I approved this message” provision was passed as a part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law in 2002. In fact, it is one of the few portions of Feingold’s signature piece of legislation that hasn’t been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court has, on at least three occasions, struck down major pieces of Feingold’s bill as unconstitutional restrictions of free political speech.
But the obnoxious “stand by your ad” provision remains. As if, for some reason, we couldn’t figure out that an ad featuring Ron Johnson standing in front of a camera talking to us, with the words “Paid For By Ron Johnson for Senate, Inc., Approved by Ron Johnson” at the bottom of the screen, was, in fact, approved by Ron Johnson. Has a candidate ever spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an ad for which he only partially approved? Imagine seeing an ad that began, “I’m Ron Johnson, and I’m pretty sure I approve of at least half of this message.”
Of course, McCain-Feingold was supposed to root out corruption from the political system. I challenge anyone to explain to me how costing a challenger four seconds of his political ad to state the obvious has prevented a single act of corruption or underhandedness in politics. (Didn’t anyone tell Congressman Charlie Rangel that Feingold meant business?)
If I were running Johnson’s campaign, I would make this a point of one of my ads. Begin an ad by saying “I’m Ron Johnson, and I approve of this message.” Then go on to mention that you have to say that disclaimer because Russ Feingold was too busy worrying about micromanaging what is said in political ads and not worried enough about all the jobs Wisconsin has been hemorrhaging. Then pivot to the economic talking points of your choosing. Easy as that.
And if I were Russ Feingold, I would work a little harder to find at least one living person who has benefited from the stimulus plan to put in my ads. At least, thanks to his own law, we now know he approves of creating jobs for fictional people.