Hickenlooper for Colorado: latest ad is pure doublespeak and John ought to know better

I’d like to ask you to consider the following hypothetical people.

Bob lives and works in Denver. He earns $50,000 per year in a position that’s focused on improving his city. He has a wife and two children, pays his taxes, is a member of various civic organizations, and is regarded by those who know him as a productive member of the community.

Bill lives and works in Denver. He earns $50,000 per year in a position that’s focused on improving his city. He has a wife and two children, pays his taxes, is a member of various civic organizations, and is regarded by those who know him as a productive member of the community.

One of these men is a valuable member of the community. The other is a leech, sucking the life out the community. Can you tell which is which?

Here’s a hint:

If you’re still confused, watch the clip again, and pay close attention to what happens at the 14 second mark and then the 20 second mark.

:14 “As a business owner, I’ve created over a thousand jobs and turned the local economy around.”

:20 “I did that as a mayor, too, while cutting the size of city government. We’ve got almost seven percent fewer employees than when I came in.”

If you still haven’t caught on to the problem, that’s probably evidence of just how deeply embedded a certain strain of ideology has become, thanks to 30+ years of nonstop reinforcement from politicians and the media entities that serve them.

So here’s the answer. What happens to people – all seven percent of them – when they find themselves no longer employed by the city? Up until that day they were working on getting things done for the city – and since I live here, I can attest that there’s plenty that needs doing. After that day, one assumes that they did what most unemployed people do. They dealt with the shock and terror that goes with knowing that their ability to provide for their families is now at risk, and then they a) started looking for a job in a market where there simply aren’t many, and b) filed for unemployment.

That’s right, J-Hick is bragging about transforming taxpayers into tax consumers. At 14 seconds, he brags about creating jobs. Six seconds later he brags about destroying jobs.

We can argue all you like about the relative merits of public jobs versus private sector jobs, and I’ve had that argument and done enough research and, by the way, worked for a long time in the private sector, to know that the alleged differences have more to do with dogma than with data.

However, there is no intelligent argument to be made that the unemployed represent a lesser burden on society than those employed by government agencies. None.

Such is the state of the “public mind,” however, that a man standing for the office of Governor in a state like Colorado can, within the span of ten seconds, brag about creating jobs and brag about destroying jobs and have both messages, as patently contradictory as they are, taken for Good Things®. If I am to buy the logic, such as it is, that informs this campaign ad, then really I ought to be quite critical of Hickenlooper. If government jobs are bad enough that axing them is good, then the truth of the argument isn’t 7% in your favor, it’s 93% against you, right?

This. Is. Foolishness.

Let’s be clear. I’m a fan of John Hickenlooper’s and have been since well before he announced for mayor several years ago. Unless something unprecedented happens in the next couple of weeks I’ll be voting for him. (I mean, come on – he’s running against Tom Tancredo and a Republican who’s so far off the ranch that the GOP establishment was trying to figure out if they had any legal way of dumping him.)

When Loop talks about creating jobs he’s telling the truth. He was one of the main drivers behind the massive redevelopment of Denver’s LoDo district. He was one of the founders of Wynkoop Restaurant and Brewing, Colorado’s first microbrewery and still one of my favorite places in town. (Colorado has since become the one of the nation’s top states for beer production – in fact, I believe by some measures it’s now #1.) In other words, not only has Hickenlooper created jobs directly as a result of his entrepreneurship, he has created an environment in which many other businesses were able to succeed and create jobs. In this respect, his claim that he created over a thousand jobs is exceedingly modest.

I further believe that he’s probably about as progressive as it’s possible to be and still be electable in this state, and I believe that if Colorado slid left we’d find out that he was even more progressive than we know. So file this critique under T for “tough love,” I guess.

But he’s doing neither his brand nor his constituency any favors by mimicking the corrosive neo-liberal vocabulary we hear in this ad. It’s nothing short of doublespeak and by accepting that the game will be played on the GOP’s terms he makes it even more difficult to restore some sanity and intelligence to our political discourse down the road. This isn’t communicating, it’s pandering. He’s treating Colorado voters like they’re dolts, and while they’ve certainly earned that treatment, I assure you that a lot of us here are feeling a tad less enthusiastic about our decision to vote for him than we were before we saw this ad. There simply has to be a way of speaking to the Western fiscal conservative without insulting the intelligence of your dedicated base.

Dammit, John, Colorado needs a governor who can lead us out of the mess we’re in. A kinder, gentler Douglas Bruce just isn’t good enough.

Cut it out. Now.

3 replies »

  1. On a related note, the Ken Buck and Michael Bennett ads are driving me nuts. I heard my first Bennett ad this morning (as an avid NPR listener, I get to avoid the bulk of them except when waking up) and it was… not what I wanted to wake up to. I mean really, do I need to hear that Ken Buck would force a rape victim to bear her rapist’s child at 6:10 AM?

    And the Buck ad quoting two unnamed commentators makes me wonder what he’s trying to hid by not naming them. Hell, I could be an unnamed commentator fit for quotation in that kind of an ad.

    Can it be November 3 yet already?