This is an amusing ad by the Obama campaign, poking fun at Mitt Romney’s comment in the first debate about eliminating funding for PBS and Big Bird. President Obama has been getting good traction on the stump with the line about Romney looking out for Wall Street while fighting Sesame Street, and so they turned it into ad form. This was perhaps the most memorable line of the debate, and it came from Romney. Obama may have had a bad debate performance, but he gave the Romney campaign few quotable lines to work with. So it’s the Romney lines that get highlighted in ads.
There’s only one thing that sticks out to me about this ad, though the casual viewer probably won’t notice it. Let’s look at that litany of Wall Street “criminals” and “gluttons of greed,” which later get juxtaposed with Big Bird. You have Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski. So two CEOs prosecuted and convicted by George W. Bush’s Justice Department, and Madoff, whose son turned him in before Obama took office, in December 2008, and who pleaded guilty.
So the Obama campaign could not fill a list of three Wall Street criminals that the Obama Justice Department actually sent to jail. Heck, they couldn’t fill a list of one!
This is despite Eric Holder telling students at Columbia University in February of this year that his Justice Department’s record of success on fighting financial fraud crimes “has been nothing less than historic.” But not historic enough that his boss could point to, well, one Wall Street criminal behind bars as a result of DoJ’s actions.
That’s painfully telling. Nobody from Bank of America or Wells Fargo or Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase or Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns or Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch or even Countrywide or Ameriquest was available to stand in as a “glutton of greed” in this advertisement. Literally no major figure responsible for the financial crisis has gone to jail. So the campaign has to use two CEOs from a decade-old accounting scandal, and a garden-variety Ponzi schemer. The financial crisis plays no role in this advertisement trying to juxtapose cuts to PBS with the financial crisis!
The subtext here is far more revealing than the text.