Campaigning doesn’t get much uglier than Sharron Angle’s new TV spot aimed at Harry Reid. In 30 seconds, her ad manages to use the words “illegal aliens” and “illegals” three times, each time flashing them across the screen in blood-red type. Subtle, right? Gets better. The point of the ad is to make Reid pay for his outreach to Latino voters (not that he passed any actual immigration reform legislation, but never mind that). And each blood-red slur nominally points out an immigration reform Reid supports. So the ad ends with a doozy of a question: “What does Harry Reid have against you?” Guess Angle figures why bother with coded racist language when you can just cut to the chase.
The images, believe it or not, are even less subtle. At one point, the ad shows a bunch of happy, smiling white kids in graduation robes. Then it cuts to an image of three young Latino men who look like they’re at a gangsta-rap video casting call.
Salon’s Steve Kornacki rightly points out that Angle has clearly been studying from Jesse Helms’ infamous playbook:
So things have advanced: It’s no longer hard-working whites against lazy blacks; now, it’s hard-working white people versus, um, alien thugs from the planet illegal? See, we’re post-racial after all.
Helms’ “hands” ad, considered one of the most blunt appeals to racial resentment in the history of televised political advertising, showed a pair of white hands crumbling up a rejection letter from a prospective employer. “You wanted that job,” the narrator says. “You needed that job. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.”