The message here is intricately woven, but really quite simple: If you want an America that is more like Brazil, vote for Bush. But what makes this ad a killer is the final tag. An earlier, related Democratic National Committee ad closed with the line, "Now consider this: by favoring the few, George W. Bush would hurt the many." Here the judgment is much harsher and broader: "Is he ready to lead America?"
This carefully crafted phrase has something of a double meaning. In the logical context of the ad, it carries the sense of, "are you ready for the man who did this in Texas to lead America?" The term "ready" stretches to cover such qualities as caring about children, fighting polluters, protecting Social Security, and so forth. But the more conventional sense of "ready" is obviously also present. Beyond the context of the ad, "Is he ready to lead America?" means "does he have the mental equipment to be president?"
Even in a negative ad as harsh as this, the Gore people are holding back somewhat. They are afraid to ridicule Bush as a dunderhead. But given the well-established public stereotype, they probably don't need to. Jay Leno and Saturday Night Live will finish the job for them.
TODAY IN SLATE
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As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.