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The Worst Election Commercial

Right to Life Takes the Prize

Is it possible for a political commercial to be so venal, so disgusting, so utterly devoted to the quarter-truth that it offends even the crusted sensibilities of Dark Cloud? Alas, no, but there are some that have given me a slight twinge.

Odd to say, I am not referring to the advertisements of our august political aspirants, half of whom unfortunately will provide my living (indirectly) and my laughs (directly) for the next few years. Ted Strickland, who thought that a comparison of his contradictory statements was foul ball, retaliated by two of the stupidest pleas for votes in the history of American political horrors, no mean accolade. The first was composed of a series of non-sequitors about Romer's thoughts on education costs, the second was the famed Angela Davis spot that angered anyone with a shred of brains.

I am not referring to Ken Kramer's campaign, starting out with him as a particularly devious nephew pleading for votes, fading into slurs against Wirth, finally nodding out with meanderings into the mysticism of America so beloved by the New Right. Neither do I take issue with Wirth for his "God, I'm Wonderful approach," or those with his own Clara Peller "clearing things up" about social security. Marvelous as these examples are, they do not offend me. What do you expect when power seekers have to appeal to idiots?The ads that fan my rear are the Right to Life ads. These are the ones that feature a reasonable facsimile of Ronald Reagan chatting amiably about love and what he obviously considers murder. Like the President, he cannot complete a sentence without glancing at a cue card. Like Reagan, he has the pleasing cadence of the embalmer quoting prices. And like the President, he is unsafe with figures, unsure of his topic (fetuses), and subject to the dramatic, well spoken, and wrong.

Right to Lifers usually make a big deal of the trimester system, the ones doctors use and the basis of Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court position. "'How," they ask, "can an unborn child be not human a second before the six month mark, and human a second later?" This is a mystery, but can best be stated that it is true in much the same way that one minute you live and the next your brain explodes and you are dead. It is not a sufficient answer, but it works.

Prominently featured in these RTL ads is the face of a young girl. Or, at least what we are to conclude is a young girl. They just show her eyes, and she cries on cue as a voice, perhaps hers, tells how her abortion was a mistake. And how she didn't even have parental permission for the act. And now she regrets it. Touching. The fact is that the squalid little creature probably hasn't a clue even how horrid the burden of an unwanted child is, or worrying about how the adopting parents are treating it, or the foster-care home, or the street pregnant when underage, and couldn't tell your own folks, a clue is obtained about how close, how joyous, how traditionally American that home was. Of course you regret it now. Your father found out and beat you. Imagine. Aborting his child.

The 'doctor' that the ads present seems to have unsuccessfully faced a severe Seconal habit. He wrestles with the ethics of his acts as an abortionist. The morality weighs on him.

Undraped with personality and throbbing with a level of competence usually suggested by grocery clerks, this 'doctor' regrets his contribution to the claimed one and a half million abortions provided each year. If he is aborting individuals of the age implied by the commercial, no doubt someone has sorrowfully drawn to his attention the amazing fact his patients have carried for eighteen months. That would depress anyone, especially Mom.

Nobody, of course, is for abortion except as the admitted least attractive of alternatives that plague the sexual lives of the selfish, stupid, or ignorant. It remains a cheery truth that if one subtracts the unwanted pregnancies from the whole issue, the remaining cases form a mathematical amount of no importance to anyone, even the New Right. In that regard, the Right needs the abortion issue; it is the only one where they can appear to be hesitant about violence. That is why they want to scream about fetuses under the impression (or not...) that they are babies rather than encourage sex education and birth control. That is why even the most adamant pro-choice hysteric could restrain his/her anger if the New Right sought to alleviate the problem rather than to cash in on it.

Oh, they say otherwise. They say that they favor a return to traditional values and Christian morality. Unfortunately, it is a fact that Christianity has the mantel trophy for the most vicious philosophy (in practice) and is, in any case, a monumental failure after two thousand years. The traditional American virtues referred to virtues (which include child labor, slavery, indentured servitude, and the stated Deism of the founding Fathers, that denied the divinity of Christ) remain for the hosts who long for a return to McGuffey Readers and stylized weaves in a wife's pubic hair as a chastity belt.