In election years, living in a swing state is like being the hottest girl in school. Everybody wants your attention, especially the creepers.
There is no escape until Nov. 6, so we might as well embrace the political ads with a Bill Simmons-style running diary. I watched the 5 o’clock news last Wednesday to chronicle the action.
5:08 p.m.: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted lets Ohioans know they can vote from home. The phrase “no excuse” comes up. “Exercise your right to vote without ever leaving your home” confirms we’re well on our way to a “WALL-E” society.
Then, shots fired: Nutcracker-esque music accompanies Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel as a marionette dangling at the whims of special interests. The marionette’s smile is creepy, but I think that’s just Mandel’s normal smile. “Who’s pulling Josh Mandel’s strings?” asks a breathy narrator. If that was too vague: “You just can’t trust this guy.”
5:12 p.m.: Barack Obama asks, “So what’s my plan?” A concerned female narrator interrupts: “More of the same.” Dramatic piano music backs visions of bleak blue-collar workers and decaying towns as the prez looks smug and hobnobs with Letterman. “Another four years focused on everything but jobs? No thanks,” proclaims the narrator, who probably prefers Leno.
Next, Obama’s narrator calls Mitt Romney “dishonest” and “not true.” Saying “liar” gets the point across better, Barry.
5:22 p.m.: Back to the Senate: We see one of those crazy lens machines from the optometrist’s office. “(Democratic Senator) Sherrod Brown’s vision for Ohio jobs is out of focus.” Get it? The stats even blur in and out! Also, Brown looks drunk.
A couple ads later, Romney shows up looking as middle-class as he can (plaid shirt, no tie), looks us in the eye and promises he’ll “stand up to China.” You can tell he’s serious because of the music.
5:27 p.m.: Brown plays the “I’m not a tax-evader, you’re a tax-evader!” card on Mandel, then accuses him of hiring his unqualified bros and skipping class. Errr, meetings.
5:38 p.m.: Uh oh, here comes the Constitution! “We the people, the middle class,” which includes somber factory workers, elderly restaurateurs and babies bathing in the sink. Romney’s tax plan will hurt these people, the ad proclaims. Also, Paul Ryan has fart face.
Then Romney’s back to looking us in the eye again.
But wait! The nursing home patients will settle this! Apparently Romney just wants to raise their fees, while Obama just likes hanging out there.
5:43 p.m.: More dramatic piano music as a veteran explains how fellow veteran (and Republican congressman) Steve Stivers helped her get work. Not a peep from Stivers’ Democratic opponent Pat Lang. Get your head in the game, Lang! Where’s your “Stivers lied about his service, and he’s a transvestite!” campaign?
5:53 p.m.: Mandel accuses Brown of skimping on his taxes and explains, “The only way to change Washington is to change the people we send there.” And the only way to change my headache is to change the channel.