So there I was, innocently puttering around the e.politics bunker last night with the Military Channel on in the background (a show on CIA spycraft! Yum), when all of a sudden Mike Huckabee’s Southern drawl rolled out of my fine 150-watt 1993-vintage Infinity speakers like a silt-choked Arkansas river on a hot summer morning. What was up? It turns out that someone seems to have passed a Health Care Law that he doesn’t much like! And we only need four new Senators to get rid of it….
The ad, run by Repeal It Now, is as fine a piece of propaganda as I’ve seen in a while, but what really jumped out at me was what a blatant list-building endeavor it was. Alas, their website only has this lame-o version — the one I saw last night had plenty of scary black-and-white footage of Obama and Biden, along with some excellent recruitment-maximizing language. For instance, at one point Huckabee asks people to sign up online or call an 800 number, and “even if you’re signed a petition or called before, do it again.” I.e., even if you’re on someone else’s list, join mine! And there’s an explicit word-of-mouth element as well, since he also implores the viewer to “ask your friends to do it again.”
The 800 number goes to a recording of Huckabee, followed by a request to record your voice on a petition against “Obamacare” (I did so, of course, so now it’s part of the public record that J.R. “Bob” Dobbs would like to repeal the bill). Ah, but then comes the fun part, in which we are asked for money — in return for a Huckabee-signed copy of a booklet about “what you must know” about “Obamacare” — to help put pressure on Democratic senators to repeal the bill. At that point I bailed on the call, so we will be forever denied this precious wisdom.
The organization’s website continues the list-building emphasis, with an email-gathering splash page assaulting you on first visit (I arrived via Google Ad on a search results page, btw — that’s a buck or two of their marketing money wasted). Their Facebook page has 50,000+ followers and a decent number of “Likes” and comments on individual Wall posts, though I was surprised that the page didn’t land on a sign-up form by default. A link to sign the petition is at least prominently featured, and the overall effect is that SOMEONE’S getting ready for a fight in 2012.
Apparently these ads are not entirely new, since I found an article mentioning them back in January, but judging from the language on the phone message, they’ve launched a new push. Their targeting seems appropriate at first glance, since the Military Channel is going to skew older, white and conservative (and if the other ads on the channel are any indicator, very willing to spend money on “collectibles”). In any case, last night was the first time I’d seen one, and I’ll keep an eye out to see how long they run.
Just one quick question for ol’ Mike: I seem to remember that Huckabee is a born-again Christian and a full-fledged minister, and at least in my long-ago Sunday School lessons, we learned that Christ was big into helping the disadvantaged, a goal which providing health care to people who don’t have it would seem to further (Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”). Perhaps preserving a market-based, for-profit system of health-care rationing that excludes 20% of us is what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 19:24, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” But what do I know — I’m just a writer, not a professional Man Of God.