Massa's New Ad: Not Stupid

The headline may seem like faint praise (like "Immanuel Kant:  Not Dumb" or "Kim Novak:  Not Ugly"), but I think it's about the highest compliment I can pay an ad in the current environment.

When Randy Kuhl came out with an ad claiming that "Eric Massa has a raise taxes", he assumed that everyone listening was stupid.  Because who, other than someone who's quite dim, would think that a politician would create a plan to raise taxes?   Kuhl might as well have claimed that "Eric Massa has a turn puppies into hamburger."   No sane politician has a plan to raise taxes or slaughter puppies, and any viewer of even minimal intelligence knows it.

Kuhl didn't even bother to use the common "Eric Massa says he won't raise taxes, but..." formulation. That phrasing would have at least assumed that the viewer has an IQ above room temperature, but is easily fooled by the machinations of a clever politician. 

Like most negative commericals, Kuhl's was produced with the hope of a two-fer.  Not only did he try to tar Massa with a ridiculous claim, he hoped to goad Massa into a negative response. "Randy Kuhl says that I'll raise taxes, but Kuhl's deficit has raised taxes on our children, etc."

Here's where Massa was smart.  When your opponent says something hysterical, you can either rise to the same level of hysteria, or you can make a calm, positive assertion that illustrates the stupidity of your opponent's claim.  Massa said, "My family is overtaxed and underserved, just like yours."  Translation:  I know, and you know, that taxes are too high.  Raising them would be stupid.  Neither of us are that dumb.

Massa's ad opens with  "[I] chose to raise my family in upstate New York, just like you." That's a calm, positive rebuttal of the "carpetbagger" accusation that's been floating around.  Massa could have chosen to explain why Navy Vets can't call anyplace home, but his one positive sentence is far more powerful, and probably more widely appreciated, than a recitation of his service record.

I also think that the use of Amo Houghton's first-person endorsement by the Kuhl campaign is not stupid, but it's not as clever as Massa's latest ad. We learn that Amo likes Randy, and Randy knows the area.  These are Randy's known strengths.  It would have been better to use Amo's time to say something positive about one of Randy's perceived weaknesses.


I am so grateful for your blog and look forward to it daily, particularly as we enter the last round. I have no idea how many follow it but I value the amount of time and thought which you obviously place into this. From Yates County,thank you....

You're welcome.

Good stuff, its both true and a bit sad that saying someone isn't stupid is a possitive review. I love your site, (I just linked to it a minute ago)keep up the great work just a little over 326 hours to go!

oh and yeah it refreshing to hear someone get attacked and not get nasty in responce, especially when the public knows all about the other persons nastiness. Me personally, I 'd have been on the offensive, I'd be rude, crude and I would have told the TV stations to have the "bleep" guy ready to go before the debates. Thats probably why Im not a politician, well one of the reasons. Thanks again

You're welcome - thanks for the link.