Not to be outdone by what Parker released earlier today, Ben Hall has responded with a thirty-second spot of his own today. The ad, titled “Less,” looks at Hall’s position on crime.
As I have stated myriad times before, Ben Hall has a real issue he can run on –and hopefully attract undecideds with– when it comes to crime. There is a lot to be said about how dangerous Houston is, and I believe that, given the right conditions, this could be a rear pain for the Mayor. Call it the Romney problem, perhaps, but Hall has largely been a somewhat inept message of these issues. His new commercial proved to be no exception.
Keeping in line with Hall’s tradition of simply looking into the camera and delivering the whole script himself, Hall started his ad with a rhetorical question, “Here’s what Mayor Parker says about crime.” The remark was followed by about three seconds of an ineffably awkward silence while he shakes his head in perceived frustration. He then replies (to himself) with the obligatory “Here’s what I say,” continuing with:
“We don’t need more police, we need less [sic] criminals! I’ll make their lives miserable; cleaning the city, cutting weeds. Just barely within the bounds of the constitution.
And install surveillance cameras like other cities, not traffic cameras, so we can catch ‘em.
Here’s a clue mayor; criminals don’t like to get caught.”
The title of the ad is “Less,” of course in reference to the comment about “less criminals.” I do not think he could have tried to pick a worse word in the ad to use as his title. A quick third-grade grammar lesson should refresh the Hall campaign’s memory, that “less” is only appropriate in cases of an non-quantifiable items. Normally, I am not a grammar Nazi, and rarely do I snipe at public officials for making such errors. However, this was not an off the cuff remark, it was something that was meticulously rehearsed. Everyone in Hall’s campaign probably reviewed that video. The problem I see is not the minor grammatical mistake as much as it is the startling problems arising over the management of his campaign.
But my real issues arise over the ideas he brought up. While some of Hall’s previous crime-fighting ideas are worth looking at (it is worth noting that many were actually the Mayor’s first), the two he brought up in today’s ad are from it.
Making criminals’ “lives miserable” is not an effective way to garner the support of Democrats (particularly, African-American Democrats). As for his suggestion that he approach the limits of the 8th Amendment using punitive measures, I truly have no response. The City of Houston does not really control punishment for anything except Class C Misdemeanors. If Ben Hall is actually talking about approaching the confides of “cruel and unusual punishment” for parking tickets and MIPs, again, I do not know where to start.
As for the surveillance camera idea, I am not a fan, but applaud Hall for taking chance on a divergent issues from the Mayor that is, at least, a little bit reasonable.
The ad was not even close, however, to the most ridiculous thing that Ben Hall did today. The campaign sent another press release to me today, outlining their new voter outreach efforts. I will quote the sentence that stood out to me the most (and not just because it is also grammatically incorrect):
The campaign is will[sic] send the following text to over 100,000 Houston voters with the below message and a link to the recent ad video, “Dream”:
I’m no expert on election law, but I think it is illegal to send unsolicited text messages like this. This will become a bigger issue, I believe.
Bay Area Houston has more.