Scene 1 – Black and white. A close-up of a lone bald-headed man perched atop a rock with a despondent look on his face. The camera slowly pans back to reveal a desolate landscape littered with the campaign literature of losing candidates from time immemorial as far as the eye can see.
The man on the rock is considering a small, round object lightly clutched in his steady right hand. The camera shifts left and comes back in to reveal a 2014 Oberweis for U.S. Senate button. The man sighs and launches into the following soliloquy:
“Alas poor Jim! I knew him, dear voters: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?”
Then the man casually tosses the button into the rest of the pile and the camera slowly fades to black.
OK, OK! Perhaps that was a bit melodramatic. But you have to admit that a mental picture is often worth well more than 10,000 words!
A few weeks back, we mused on the possibility of Mr. Oberweis pulling off some sort of an upset. Some polls had him just 7 points behind, he hadn’t accidentally shot off an important body part lately, and maybe, just maybe, if Senator Durbin came down with a case of terminal overconfidence, the “on any given Sunday” phenomenon might just resurface.
Hey! If Eric Cantor can lose to a nobody, it proves that political life can become that proverbial box of chocolates.
Ah! But as is so often the case with all forms of wishful thinking, my hopes were summarily dismantled this weekend with the kind of brutal precision that demonstrates exactly why Dick Durbin has swept away a host of GOP contenders with a mere flick of the wrist.
And this figurative surgical political scalpel arrived in the form of two separate TV commercials I witnessed while watching the Cubs get clobbered this weekend. Considering Jim’s electoral history, the irony of that placement certainly wasn’t lost on me.
The first shows a very nice looking young blond mother who tearfully describes the day her husband’s helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. She tells us he now suffers from a traumatic brain injury. She says, “Senator Durbin passed a law that provided me with the resources and the training, so that I am able to take care of Tony at home. I believe that for Dick Durbin it’s not about politics he cares for veterans and their families.”
Of course, you have to give this amazing woman a boatload of credit for sticking with a situation that would send the rest of us frantically screaming into the nearby woods. The commercial ends with the couple and their two children playing in the backyard.
Game over! Durbin didn’t even need to run the second ad.
In just 61 seconds, without mentioning his opponent or the other party, Senator Durbin reminded us of how Washington Republicans have voted down virtually every attempt to help veterans. He left viewers with the kind of visceral reaction that they will carry with them to the polls on November 4th.
Now, you all know I am not easily swayed, but the sacrifices of those who’ve served in Afghanistan suddenly became much more real. And the Republicans who have so easily tossed our veterans aside became that much more despicable.
The second spot is only 30 seconds, but it’s almost as effective.
It opens with cameos of various 30-something middle-class folks declaring the depth of their college loan debt. Then the camera shifts to Durbin who talks about fighting for a law that would allow college loans to be refinanced at lower interest rates. He sums it up with this devastatingly simple statement, “After all, if you can refinance a car loan and a home loan, why can’t you refinance a student loan?”
Once again, never alluding to Oberweis, who’s political past is ripe for the pluckin’, Durbin reminds us of how the GOP bends over backwards for out wealthiest citizens, but they regularly tell the rest of us to go pound sand.
And remember, I am no fan of the arrogant Democratic Senator from Illinois, but the truth is, if more national Democrats availed themselves of Durbin’s campaign team, it would be all over for the GOP. This is how you remind regular folks that they need to get their asses off the couch and vote for their own self-interest.
Jim! You know I love you and how much I hate being the bearer of bad news, but it’s over! Even if you decided to spend the rest of your fortune on television countermeasures, you’re going down by double digits. So this round, you can head down to Florida and make your wife happy without having to fret about the papers making such a big deal out of it.
At least you have something to look forward to; all we have is Dick Durbin.