Republicans were already feeling optimistic about their electoral fortunes. The Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill are tiny, and given that the White House’s party nearly always loses seats two years after a presidential election, GOP leaders effectively started measuring the drapes a while ago.
After last week’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans’ confidence reached new levels — to the point that the National Republican Congressional Committee crafted and launched a new attack ad. Axios reported this week:
The National Republican Congressional Committee will run a one-day, nationwide ad campaign today — one year out from the 2022 midterm elections, targeting Democrats over rising prices, crime and the border…. The ad will air Monday on Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network.
At first blush, none of this is especially surprising. The NRCC has reason to feel bullish, and it’s eager to set the tone of the 2022 cycle early.
But the commercial’s flaws are notable.
For one thing, Republicans have an unfortunate habit of misleading editing. An MSNBC host said over the summer, “If Democrats want to know what they are going to be facing, let’s talk about it right now. Because if I were a Republican running, I would say: Democrats can’t protect us across the world, Democrats can’t protect our street, and Democrats can’t protect us at the border.”
The NRCC ad took this quote and removed the part in which the host said, “If Democrats want to know what they are going to be facing, let’s talk about it right now. Because if I were a Republican running, I would say….”
But even more important is some of the footage used in the Republicans’ new ad. A CNN report explained:
A new national television ad from House Republicans’ campaign arm deceptively uses images of events that occurred during former President Donald Trump’s time in office to attack President Joe Biden’s tenure.
CNN’s list wasn’t even comprehensive: The Washington Post found an additional instance in which the NRCC’s ad included footage from before Biden’s term, which the party nevertheless blamed on the incumbent president.
In other words, Republicans created an ad intended to tell the public that the United States is a chaotic mess and it’s the Democratic president’s fault. But some of the evidence of violence and social unrest included in the ad occurred during Trump’s term — suggesting the NRCC blames former Republican president for creating a chaotic mess.
After the NRCC’s Mike Berg promoted the ad via social media, White House Rapid Response Director Mike Gwin responded in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way: “Mike, I want to sincerely thank you for reminding Americans of the chaos we inherited from Trump: A flatlining economy. COVID out of control. Record crime. It’s remarkable how much progress we’ve made since. Much appreciated. Keep up the great work.”
That’s funny, but I’m also struck by the fact that the National Republican Congressional Committee needed to play fast and loose with the facts in the first place. If the White House and congressional Democrats are coming up short, shouldn’t the truth be good enough?