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Fun With Funke

October 28, 2014

We really admire a well-conceived political hit. We love to see a politician seize an issue and use it to generate support for himself or herself, and also undercut his or her opponent.

That said, there’s the nettlesome matter of credibility. A stink test, if you will.

The negative ad, the wedge issue, the bold gambit in a debate, whatever it is – it has to have at least some basis in reality. Otherwise, it’s dishonest and dumb, as well as being deleterious to the political process.

Notice we’re not raising quaint notion of “fairness” here.  As if.

At issue is a new campaign ad aimed at Republican Rich Funke, who is challenging Sen. Ted O’Brien in Rochester.

This ad links Funke to the failure of a bill regulating flame retardant chemicals that are used in certain children’s products.

A narrator in the ad says the following:  “Who is behind Republican Rich Funke? The same toxic special interests who want to damage our environment, poison out drinking water and shield dangerous household products from tougher regulations …”

The ad continues:  “When chemical industry lobbyists marched into Albany last spring to stop a bill that would ban toxic chemicals in children’s toys, Republican Rich Funke’s cronies in the Senate rolled out the red carpet and let them right in.”

The imagery of the ad is a hoot. It has a bunch of mean looking guys in suits carrying briefcases. They are filmed in black and white moving slowly in a kind of lockstep up the steps of the Capitol.  See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVux1FxYpCk

Where to begin?

How about this? Funke doesn’t appear to be connected to the caricatured chemical industry lobbyists. Nor is he, as yet, connected to the people whom the ad claims killed the bill. That would be the Senate GOP and IDC, which last year ran the house.

So what you have here is a kind of damnation by dated indirect potential future association. A little tenuous, it is.

It’s also problematic in that before the GOP and IDC were in control, the Dems were in control and they did the same thing. They failed to pass the legislation.

So Funke could cut the same ad and replace his name with Ted O’Brien’s. The same logic applies – because O’Brien’s “cronies” previously blocked the bill.

But that would be kinda silly because of something else the ad doesn’t say. A different bill restricting flame retardant chemicals was passed by the Senate and the governor signed it last month. It was sponsored by a Republican.

So actually, if Funke wanted to, he could run an ad that says: “Mr. O’Brien claimed that I’m associated with people who blocked a child safety bill. That’s not true. The people whom I hope to be associated with the near future actually sponsored and passed such legislation. It was Mr. O’Brien’s colleagues who previously blocked it.”

This brings us to another important test that any political hit must pass. Its gotta pass the “huh?” test. That means it has to be immediately understandable. Not funky.

This ad passes neither the stink nor huh tests.

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