We’ve seen a lot of creepy political commercials come and go. A lot of the creepiest ones have involved racial dog-whistles as part of the nefarious Republican Southern Strategy: the Willie Horton ad, the “white hands” ad, the ridiculously over-the-top attack ad accusing Janice Hahn of hiring “gang members” and so many others. Last year we cringed at a series of ads featuring politicians brandishing firearms; there’s one in which Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) literally shot the cap-and-trade bill and another video showing a Missouri state representative shooting a gun control bill. I’m old enough to remember the inexplicable 2008 Mike Gravel ad in which he stared blankly and silently into a camera then hurled a rock into a pond. Suffice to say, there’s a long history of creepiness.
But Charles and David Koch have topped them all with what could be the most bizarre, tasteless and ultimately hypocritical ad in the history of American politics.
The ad, produced by the Koch-funded Generation Opportunity, is aimed at convincing young women to opt out of buying medical coverage via the forthcoming Obamacare health insurance marketplace. (The president of Generation Opportunity is a former Ron Paul aide, by the way.)
The commercial begins with a woman being led by a nurse through a medical center and into an examination room. The nurse incredulously says to the woman, “Oh. I see you’ve signed up for Obamacare.” Here’s the first red flag. There isn’t any “Obamacare” coverage — just an array of private insurers to choose from. Realistically, the nurse should have mentioned the name of an insurance company, not “Obamacare.” But here’s me: foolishly expecting realism from a Koch Brothers attack ad.
It gets much, much worse.
Inside an exam room, the woman is greeted by a doctor, presumably a gynecologist, who instructs the woman to hop onto the examination table and to, you know, “scoot on down.” The women props her feet in the stirrups in preparation for a vaginal exam at which time the doctor mysteriously leaves the room. After an uncomfortable beat, a man dressed in a disturbing Uncle Sam costume that looks like something out of a Rob Zombie torture-porn movie, complete with an over-sized grinning mask, rises up from below frame and stands creepily between the woman’s legs. Cut to the text: “Don’t let government play doctor” (get the sexual, rapey vibe here?) and then “Opt Out of ObamaCare.” After another beat, Ghoulish Uncle Sam ominously holds up a metallic vaginal speculum. Yes, a speculum, which he then proceeds to spread apart while tilting his head sideways with the same eerie grin plastered across his distorted face.
This an actual anti-Obamacare ad.
I’m not sure what they expected to achieve with this disaster, other than to troll people like me, but they certainly won’t win over many women by suggesting that Ghoulish Uncle Sam will rape them with a speculum if they sign up for Obamacare. By the way, congratulations, Koch Brothers, you just turned Uncle Sam into a rapist villain. God Bless the U.S.A., etc. Along those lines, how many times will opponents of healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act continuously gorge from the same old “government-run healthcare” trough? It’s well-known that the individual mandate and the marketplace were originally Republican ideas, but, naturally, if your goal is to undermine the law it’s more effective to ignore those facts and to pretend that Ghoulish Uncle Sam is going to insert foreign objects into the vaginas of American women who are stupid enough to buy into the marketplace.
Now let’s talk about projection. The Kochs and Generation Opportunity are pumping this nonsense into the debate knowing that Republican legislatures across the nation have passed numerous laws mandating that women who choose to have a legal and constitutionally protected abortion also submit to a medically unnecessary ultrasound. As of this month, 10 state governments currently require an ultrasound, and, in many cases, the ultrasound has to be what’s known as a “transvaginal ultrasound” involving the insertion of a transducer wand into the vagina of the patient. Many more legislatures have been working feverishly to pass similar laws.
These delegations of self-identified small government conservatives have commanded that internal, vaginal medical procedures be performed upon women during one of the most harrowing chapters of their lives. And the only purpose of this procedure, since it’s not required as part of a typical abortion, is to intimidate and coerce women into carrying their pregnancies to term, irrespective of circumstances.
Indeed, it’d be pretty easy to transform this particular Koch ad into an anti-ultrasound, pro-choice spot simply by comping out the speculum and digitally replacing it with an ultrasound transducer. Oh, and to be on the safe side, we’d probably have to remove the word “Obamacare” from the dialogue since the law doesn’t pay for abortions and, instead, leaves this option up to the states while requiring that at least one insurance plan doesn’t cover the procedure.
Again, reality and facts don’t matter in today’s climate of shameless scare-mongering and mendacious fantasy orbiting the Obamacare program where death panels and other myths have been marketed by opponents from the beginning. Now, in addition to all of that, we have a new layer of obnoxious, brutally offensive propaganda to dump onto a slagheap that already features the president as a “witch doctor,” as well as make-believe IRS goon-squads raiding your house if you refuse to buy health insurance. So here comes Ghoulish Uncle Sam administering your pap smears, ladies. And never mind the transducer in the other room… it’s for your own good.