Mayor Annise Parker has released her second campaign television advertisement, less than a week after Hall released a second commercial of his own. The ad, which is thirty second, is embedded and linked below:
The commercial continues with Parker’s basic strategy vis-a-vis Hall, which has been to just keep swinging and clubbing at all the low hanging fruit of his campaign. The commercial includes five definitive allegations against Hall, all of which I have determined to be true.
First, the ad makes the claim of “Houston teachers oppose Ben Hall for mayor.” The statement is obviously an exaggeration, being overly simplistic, but the Houston Federation of Teachers (the local affiliate of the powerful AFT Union) did endorse Parker. I rate this statement “true enough,” therefore, especially considering how many liberties with the truth Hall and Dick have taken. Next, Parker’s commercial says”
“A Ben Hall ad bragged about his commitment to our schools, but Hall owed $57,000 in unpaid school taxes. And Hall didn’t pay those taxes, until news media asked about it. Hall has been penalized over $130,000 for late property taxes. When asked why, Hall says, ‘It’s just my way of dealing with it.'”
The Parker campaign, for allegations No. 2-5, is referencing an issue that arose in May. At that time, I even noted all of these allegations explicitly, even lambasting Hall’s nonchalant attitude when confronted with the allegations by KHOU. At the time, Charles Kuffner noted that “The story was abetted by a tip from the Parker campaign,” so I do not suppose this subject for an attack ad is actually all that surprising.
For my own two cents, I find that such an ad from the Parker campaign is ineffective and not as good of a bet as a positive message. I noted this after she published her first TV ad, when I said “Parker has a heck of a record to run on, and it would be a squandered opportunity to pass that up.”
Parker DOES have a fantastic record for her second term in office. While plenty of other cities are still struggling, Houston is soaring. I can’t remember that last time, living in Boston, that I saw a construction crane. Oh, that’s right, it was when I was in Houston! While those with erudite concentration on municipal politics will understand the exact issue Hall referenced, the vast majority of the electorate will not. I have always maintained that, when one has a leg to stand on, positive ads are much better than negative ones. Everyone remembers Reagan’s “Morning in America” ad, but few can recall whatever attack-of-the-moment he launched against Mondale.
Obama could never do that. The economy, for all intent and purposes, is still struggling, so he had to convince people it could get better under his continued conservatorship. All Parker has to do is explain why it is already better, and how you should not fix something that is not broken.
Hall’s campaign then responded to the odds with an odd ramblings of its own:
“Ben Hall has paid two and half times more in Houston property taxes than Ms. Parker. And while their one trick pony campaign insists on distracting voters with this nonsensical issue, Ms. Parker is dangerously close to running out of time to talk to voters about issues they actually care about. Where are Ms. Parker’s solutions to Houston’s soaring crime rates, failing roads and infrastructure, inadequate education system, and looming financial liabilities?
And if Ms. Parker really wants to question the ethical integrity of this mayoral race, why hasn’t she explained her blatantly corrupt 16 years in public office?”
First of all, I do not give a flying care that Ben Hall paid more than Parker in property taxes overall. Of course he pays more taxes, he lived in a huge mansion in a suburb, while Parker lives in a more modest home that I would guess is somewhat under-appraised. The argument could be applied that Wesley Snipes pays more in taxes, overall, than I do does not means that Wesley Snipes is a model citizen or that I am not. This is so chock full of logical fallacies that it barely deserves the dignity of my response.
I do really like the, albeit fleeting, mention of “soaring crime rates, failing roads and infrastructure, inadequate education system, and looming financial liabilities?” There was only one item in that whole sentence that made me livid, and it was the oxford comma. But what came after the sentence –nothing– is what really frustrated. For months now, the Hall campaign has been flirting with the idea of talking about real, substantive issues. They still have not done this. Even worse, Hall’s campaign almost immediately became guilty of the same mudslinging, but alluding to far-fetched innuendo about Parker being corrupt.
This is silly season, don’t be fooled. I had expected better from both candidates, to be honest.