Peter Cavanaugh

Why not treat political advertising like tobacco ads? That and other musings

Columnist Peter Cavanaugh sees the irony in a man who would become president promoting tobacco. This image provided by the Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising shows a 1949 Chesterfield cigarette advertisement featuring then-actor Ronald Reagan.
Columnist Peter Cavanaugh sees the irony in a man who would become president promoting tobacco. This image provided by the Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising shows a 1949 Chesterfield cigarette advertisement featuring then-actor Ronald Reagan. Associated Press

One poisons the body. The other poisons the mind.

In December 1970, Congress passed a bill banning the promotion of tobacco products from public airwaves. The last televised cigarette ad ran at 11:50 p.m. during “The Johnny Carson Show” on Jan. 1, 1971.

We should do the same with political advertising.

It clutters our flat screens and savages the truth.

The notion that anyone is truly educated by this constant barrage of contrived drivel is hopelessly nonsensical. This goes for both sides of the ideological divide.

With the cost of broadcast and cable time skyrocketing, such largesse flowing into the coffers of corporate media fundamentally comes at our expense. What politicians buy with money, we pay for with our viewing time.

Who knows what these propositions are all about? We’re told they’re angelically good or diabolically bad with no genuine explanation as to what they really propose. We’re asked to vote by number. “8” is great, “5” is jive, but “6” is a fix. Huh?

Individual candidates are similarly presented as angels or devils with opponents portrayed in the reverse. We’ve heard and seen it all.

Guess what?

Political advertising is and always has been banned on British radio and TV by its citizens. The United Kingdom’s Electoral Reform Society observes, “The US experience shows the only people who profit from TV ads are moneyed interest groups, TV networks and paid political consultants.”

We get what we vote for. Got that?

President Donald Trump is making me happy as he shamelessly hogs the spotlight – blinking his little piggy eyes at countless cameras these final days of Campaign 2018. His self-definition is stunning.

Facing imminent disgrace from Robert Mueller’s initial findings, our president is on a full frontal assault in key states, throwing caution to the wind in what could be a final flameout. Trump has clearly stated his message. If Republicans pull off a great big beautiful win, it will be Donald’s doing. If they don’t, it won’t be his fault. Nothing ever is. Look at him. Clap for him. Crave for him. That’s all that counts.

Donald J. Trump should be regarded as the divinely ordained center of every true believer’s universe.

His message is messianic.

Here comes another group of tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They’re heading for our southern border. Half of them are kids. Bring in the military. Cut them off. Prepare to shoot.

Who cares about a Saudi citizen, diced and sliced for convenient disposal? He was never one of us.

So what if Daddy left his baby boy $400 million? Everyone should choose fathers with greater care. Picking proper parents is patriotic.

Water for the West? Sure! More studies!

Trump’s local lackey, Fourth District Congressman Tom McClintock, joined the president last week in Arizona (where he also doesn’t live) to watch the signing of a memorandum establishing a revised timeline for reviewing the environmental impact of possible new dams and canals. Said the president, echoing the eloquence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; “This will move things along at a record clip. And you’ll have a lot of water. I hope you’ll enjoy the water you’ll have.”

Halloween is less than a week away. Let us darken the room – join hands in silent séance – and recall these chilling words from America’s master of horror, Steven King:

“Trump is like the crazy, raving uncle you hope your friends never meet.”

“His cabinet is a motley crew of plunder-monkeys.”

“Donald J. Trump is worse than any horror story I ever wrote.”

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