"Dignity" Airs In 18 States

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Barack Obama's second general election ad is called "dignity."



The music alternates A/A sharp as the deep-voiced male narrator lets go of a series of action verbs -- "fought," "passed," "turned down," "worked," "slashed." The visuals alternate between pictures of somber Obama and smiling Obama. One includes the archetypal image of the candidate, shirtsleeves rolled up, his elbows at his sides, and his arms extended outward, palms up.

OBAMA: I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message. Announcer: He worked his way through college and Harvard Law. Turned down big money offers, and helped lift neighborhoods stung by job loss. Fought for workers’ rights. He passed a law to move people from welfare to work, slashed the rolls by eighty percent. Passed tax cuts for workers; health care for kids. As president, he’ll end tax breaks for companies that export jobs, reward those that create jobs in America. And never forget the dignity that comes from work.

Notice how the careful omission of a pronoun makes it sound like Obama himself "slashed" welfare -- a nice and defensible trick of the trade. Actually, the word "passed" here is a bit out of context. As other news organizations have noted, Obama co-sponsored the bill, which brought Illinois into compliance with the '96 federal law; legislators don't pass anything. And it passed overwhelmingly -- Democrats and Republicans in the Illinois Senate supported it; there was only one no vote And Obama glosses over his opposition to the '96 federal welfare reform law.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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