A foolish Kerry campaign ad about China

[UPDATE Apparently this ad is not a true Kerry ad, but one created by an independent group. Personally, I'd say they didn't do Kerry any great favors, as viewers will inevitably associate the ad with Kerry, as I automatically did. Stephen Frost has a great post that tells us exaxctly what the Chinese characters in the ad say, who placed the ad and where you can see it for yourself.]

I will do everything I can to support John Kerry in the race against George W. Bush. That said, I was highly disappointed to view a Kerry TV commercial that I find misguided, deceptive and inappropriate. And Kerry and his team have to know it.

The ad begins by showing a group of factories that resemble what you’d find in America’s Rust Belt. The announcer says something along the lines of, “During his administration, President Bush created more than 3 million new jobs.” There’s a brief pause, and the announcer continues, “In China.” With that, the camera pans upward and pulls back to reveal huge signs over the factories, all in Chinese characters. The rest of the ad warns of the horrors of outsourcing and how Kerry will fight for US workers, whereas Bush caved in to big industry.

I find this unacceptable on more than one level. First, it creates anti-Chinese sentiments, positioning them as an enemy/threat. It also implies the president can easily “do something” about US jobs lost by outsourcing. And, possibly worst of all, it makes a relatively small issue appear ominous, playing on people’s fears. It’s populist politics at its most unattractive.

Outsourcing brings real benefits to most Americans, and when it comes to all the jobs lost it is not nearly as big a factor as the Kerry ad would have you believe. There are so few jobs out there because employers don’t want to hire when they’re still anxious and unsure about the economy. I know, that’s not much consolation to the poor factory worker whose job has been exported to Guangzhou. But that’s part of the price of free markets and globalization.

It really hurts me to write anything negative about Kerry, but I’m worried that if he doesn’t get more substantive he will appear phony and insincere. He’s also got to get more aggressive in dealing with the charge that he says whatver his latest audience wants to hear. Karl Rove is making the waffling charge the No. 1 issue, and so far Kerry has done a poor job countering it.

The China ad should be scrapped. With so many real issues out there, why they would make outsourced jobs to China a key issue is beyond me.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 13 Comments

Not that, with the steel tariffs and farm bill, Bush is notably better on Trade.

March 30, 2004 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

so what if it’s “anti-China”? (or whatever passes for “anti-China” in your opinion, which I suspect is probably quite a lot of things).

Jeez, it’s an election year for Christ’s sake. What’d expect?

You’re becoming as sensitive and paranoid as the Chinese themselves. Take a chill pill.

March 31, 2004 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Low IQs

Some Americans are stupid. Advertisments like this prove it. America is the only nation that has to have 4 years of college to get students up to standard to enter university. Students in countries such as the UK and Australia are able to jump straight…

March 31, 2004 @ 2:54 am | Comment

Conrad, it’s true that Bush has been a real fuck-up on trade. That doesn’t make Kerry’s ad any better, though.

Eric, there’s plenty of material — legitimate, solid material — on Bush’s record for Kerry to use in his commercials. He doesn’t need to use phony issues that appeal to people’s ignorant emotions. So I’m disappointed. To me, it actually leaves Kerry more vulnerable, as it’s so easy to demolish the ad’s central argument.

March 31, 2004 @ 8:59 am | Comment

Welcome home Richard.

Before diving into the whole outsourcing frick-frack, check out Fortune’s Kirkpatrick’s 3 recent columns about it.

They are available at: http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fastforward/0,15704,588382,00.html

http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fastforward/0,15704,592118,00.html

http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fastforward/0,15704,604376,00.html

China is not the only country being targetted, but also India and the Philippines, and there are some valid arguments and fears. Beyond the usual rust-belt blue collar outsourcing, this has hit the white collar people (read white voters), and there is a lot of fear and anger associated with it.

The _bigger_ issue that no one seems to note is that India, China, et al have slightly different privacy laws than the US, and think of what you hand over to customer service that is now being serviced out of those countries. Over there, to steal an identity is a slap on the wrist, but in the US the laws are a little harsher.

March 31, 2004 @ 10:17 am | Comment

I am getting increasingly disillusioned with the American left. This coming from a guy who used to really love the Cultural Revolution slogan “Asia, Africa and Latin America Unite! Crush Amercian Imperialism!”

What? Suddenly the Democrats — who supposedly support the People etc. — don’t mind if we starve in the Third World, as long as they can continue sipping grande lattes in whichever the fuck Brahmin suburb of Boston John Kerry comes from?

Go Bush! Outsource all you want! The rest of the world will thank you for it in the long run.

March 31, 2004 @ 10:35 am | Comment

China: John Kerry campaign ad

From Richard at Peking Duck comes this description of a John Kerry campaign ad: The ad begins by showing a group of factories that resemble what you’d find in America’s Rust Belt. The announcer says something along the lines of,…

March 31, 2004 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

That’s fookin’ retarded.

Outsourcing is capitalism, pure and simple.

April 1, 2004 @ 1:49 am | Comment

China: ‘Nice work if you can get it. Thanks America!’

Richard of Peking Duck piqued my interest the other day with a description of what he thought (wrongly) was a John Kerry campaign ad. I’ll come back to the mistake later, but for the moment I want to stay with…

April 3, 2004 @ 12:06 am | Comment

John Forbes Kerry’s 2002 trust inheritance derived from Forbes family’s opium dealing in China during Opium Wars. This seems hypocritical for the Kerry campaign to begrudge China jobs paying 100 dollars a year when his fortune (which kept him in the race to beat back Dean) has given him the Presidential nomination. Not bad for a Swiss boarding school Ivy league opium trust fund baby brat. Which would we rather have: global competition based on communism and war, or rather a global trading culture where all benefit and the lowest of the poor can finally find some jobs?

Forbes family
Rosemary Forbes Kerry
grandfather Forbes born in Shanghai
opium trade china trade Opium war

April 3, 2004 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

The Opium Wars? From 160 years ago? Who cares? That’s like blaming GWB for his grandfather’s dealings with the Nazis. It’s revolting, but I can’t blame George Jr. for it.

April 3, 2004 @ 5:40 pm | Comment

What is wrong with being anti-China, China is anti-democracy. I live in a democratic country that China claims belongs to them. Tell that to the people who live in Taiwan! China is an international outlaw, and Kerry has a long history of supporting China through his votes in the Senate. Anyone who supports Kerry is also supporting China and therefore is against the freedom and peace loving people of the democratic nation of Taiwan.

August 22, 2004 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

Good reading! Dental Plans http://www.e-dental-plans.com

December 31, 2004 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.