Shadow RNC Attempts Reid/Angle Role Reversal

September 21, 2010 1:16 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Imagine for a moment you're Karl Rove. You have a group of billionaires on speed dial who've promised you $50 million to spend influencing the midterms and electing right-wing candidates. You have an angry, divided electorate and your opponents' base is discouraged. Life is good, until the woman who was supposed to knock off Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loses her primary to an amateur sound bite machine who alienates middle-of-the-road voters with fringe positions on rape victims' rights and government programs. Soon the trickle of beyond-the-pale comments becomes a flood, and your candidate is branded "extreme."

Worst of all given the high unemployment, your candidate says jobless aid is for "spoiled" people and that it's "not my job as a U.S. Senator to bring industry to this state."

So how do you solve a problem like Sharron Angle? If you're Karl Rove's American Crossroads GPS, you cut a dishonest ad attacking Sen. Reid with the very same labels that have turned Angle's campaign toxic. You even call it "Not My Job":

Rove can highlight the word "extremely" in red all he wants, but this ad isn't likely to convince Nevadans that Harry Reid is the extreme candidate who thinks helping the state's economy isn't a senator's job. That's the other lady.  

The role reversal scheme at the heart of the "Not My Job" attack relies on out-of-context clips. Reid didn't just say he'd done his best to create jobs — he pointed out that Angle doesn't even think that's her role as an elected representative. The ad also elides Reid's point that he tried to reign in the Bush policies that turned the Clinton surpluses into massive deficits. The last clip, where Reid calls job loss numbers "really good," deserves some context too: economists had thought the February jobs number would be twice as bad as it turned out to be, and Reid was observing — rightly — that stronger-than-expected job numbers were a good sign.

But these subtleties are the stuff attack ads are made of. What's truly innovative about this latest ad is the shameless attempt to use Sharron Angle's own failings as a candidate to smear Harry Reid. It's political judo of the most insidious sort. 

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