Thanks to the Family Research Council, we now have a new ad that is as punchy and funny as anything yet produced by either side. So who cares if it isn't true? Why should this be different from the rest of the debate?
What is different, however, is that the FRC, one of the leading Capitol Hill crusaders for the Christian right, has produced a morality-free ad: no abortion, no death panels. Just a scary message about saddling future generations with deficits from "government-run health care" that will "leave our children to pay for over a trillion dollars in additional debt."
The ad is just 30 seconds -- a blessing in itself, and a smart move -- and shows a kindly grandpa, in some not-too-distant future, reassuring his young grandson that yes, he will be able to have that expensive operation, but no worries because "it's free!"
"Who's paying for it?" asks the boy.
"You are!" responds Grandpa with evident complacency, before shooing the boy off: "You're late for work." And the boy puts on a jacket and tie and heads out to earn a living.
It's cute, pointed and fact-free -- everything that makes for an effective advocacy spot. Sure, the Baucus Senate bill that is emerging as the template for reform would reduce the nation's uninsured by 29 million people and reduce the budget deficit by $81 billion over a decade. And never mind that seniors like the fellow in the ad are the most opposed to reform. Or that it was the FRC-backed Republicans who opened the fiscal faucets for a sea of red ink. (Not to mention that the kid picks up a copy of The Wall Street Journal before heading out the door? Like we'll still have newspapers!)
The really interesting thing is that the FRC ad doesn't make any mention of the hot-button issues like abortion and euthanasia that fueled the opposition of the religious right for so long. Interesting, but also problematic. As Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News asks, "Should a Christian group like the Family Research Council be expected to base its policy positions on the Bible or religious tradition, or is this kind of fiscal-based attack fair game?"
Here's another irony: The other new religious-based ad, from the liberal folks at Sojourners and The American Values Network, is all about Bible-based imperatives for health care reform. It is twice as long as the FRC ad, and gravely earnest. A solemn voice, backed by images of uninsured victims, says: "They are not numbers or statistics. They are God's children." The uninsured and under-insured and insured-but-still-can't afford-care wait "in suffering silence" while politicians "bear false witness" and special interests "reap the profits of fear."
Not so much fun, perhaps -- sort of like actually going to church. But certainly relevant, and in keeping with the mission of Sojourners et al.
So has the left got religion -- and the right lost it? And is either scenario a good thing?