Democrats go over the edge

Whatever you want to say about the Republicans’ subliminal “Rats” ad from 2000, it was subtle. Sneaky and manipulative, but subtle. The same cannot be said of “Social Insecurity,” an ad on that shows President Bush gleefully sending people in wheelchairs careening off the edge of a cliff.

It’s a Flash-animated Bush, and the cliff is a descending Dow Jones line. But still: The 35-second ad opens with a twenty some thing guy dreaming about relaxing under a palm tree as Hawaiian music plays. A voice asks: “Ever think about your retirement? George W. Bush has, and he’s pushing a plan to put your Social Security savings in the stock market.” The dreamer is then forced into a wheel chair and sent somer saulting down the Dow. An old woman, already wheel chair-bound, suffers the same fate as the announcer warns: “Bush and the Republi cans still want to push their privati zation plans through Congress. And they will if you let them.”

“We’re not saying the presi dent is actually shoving people over cliffs,” explains Julian Mulvey of Eighteenth Street Media in Washington, D.C., which produced the ad. “We’re trying to highlight a serious issue in a humorous way.”

Republicans, of course, are outraged, calling the ad childish and pointing out its inaccuracies. But the ad’s Saturday Night Live-ish qualities have been a hit. The site got 400,000 visitors in the first 24 hours the ad was up, and promptly crashed.