By Arturo R. García
A number of ads during the Super Bowl Sunday night focused on the good things about Detroit and the auto industry. But the worst commercial of the day, aimed at Michigan voters, didn’t make the national airwaves.
The ad shown above for Republican state senatorial candidate Peter Hoekstra hinged its attack on incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on Orientalism. The actress, playing a “Chinese national,” says:
Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow. Debbie spend so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow.
The commercial, slated to run for two weeks, pointed viewers to its own website, of course, covered in a matching decor, with the video displayed front-and-center. The only mention of any of Stabenow’s policies comes at the very bottom of the page.
This marks the second major political ad in little more than a year to use xenophobia as a primary tactic, after Citizens Against Government Waste’s “Chinese Professor” spot from October 2010:
Hoekstra defended his commercial in an interview with WMMT-TV before the game, saying, “If it’s got their attention we must be doing something right.”
Unfortunately for Hoekstra, it’s getting the wrong kind of attention, too: not only is the ad getting rightly pilloried in media circles, but at least one in-state consultant within his own party, Nick De Leeuw, has criticized the spot, saying, “Stabenow has got to go. But shame on Pete Hoekstra for that appalling new advertisement. Racism and xenophobia aren’t any way to get things done.”
Funny thing, though: even though Hoekstra’s ad accuses Stabenow of letting jobs and money leave their home state, as Politico reports, the commercial wasn’t even filmed in Michigan; it was made in California, something state Democratic party chair Mark Brewer quickly seized upon, calling it “nothing more than a hypocritical attempt at a Hollywood-style makeover.
“The fact is, Pete spends a lot,” Brewer said. “Hoekstra voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and voted for trillions more in deficit spending before quitting Congress to get rich at a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm. Hoekstra is using the big game to play games with Michigan voters, covering up his real record on deficit spending and rigging the rules for the big money insiders he serves.”