Silverstein Tries to Save Democratic Advertising From Itself

But Seems to Think Bush Is Still in the Race

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Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby saw firsthand what Hal Riney did for Ronald Reagan and for years they have been trying to improve on that success for the Democrats. It hasn't come to much, but that's not stopping them from another attempt.

"Hal Riney's reframing Ronald Reagan proved that if you have a powerful idea, you should do it -- that's how it has to be done," he said. "What the politicians do now is they ask the communicator, then they go to focus groups and water it down too much," he said.

The pair tried twice to work for candidates, including a number of efforts to help John Kerry in the last election. Despite gathering up volunteers in production companies and elsewhere, "What we were doing is pretend work for them," he said. "I've been very leery to personally work for anybody. It's been very unrewarding."

So Mr. Silverstein has come up with an indie effort all his own where he doesn't have to answer to the pollsters and the candidates' organizations. Thanks to an acquaintance he made with Arianna Huffington at this year's Google Zeitgeist, Mr. Silverstein has started what he is calling a "living" campaign poster for the Dems. Each of three posters will be labeled with names such as "Names," "Events," and "Slogans." Under each name, print is used to list names associated with the administration. Names include Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Slogans include "cut and run" and "stay the course." The posters don't focus on any of the potential Republican candidates in the 2008 election, but aim squarely at George W. Bush's administration.

The so-called "visual" blog will take suggestions from readers and add them, where appropriate, to the "posters." More than 350 comments of various sorts have been added to the original posting, ranging from people volunteering to turn the posters into t-shirts to R.J. Crane, editor of anti-Bush site, who wonders whether Mr. Silverstein has ever seen Jay Leno's show "Jaywalking" skits where people on the street are asked to identify famous people and rarely know who they are. (Of course, it's unclear whether those presented on TV for the sake of late-night comedy represent a true sampling of responses.)

Mr. Silverstein said he's not saying how long the new "posters" will be, although the blog suggests three feet. And he's not sure he will stick to words, maybe moving to other art forms as well.

Oh, and just in case anybody at the Democratic National Committee is listening, he has a tag line: "Haven't We Had Enough? Democrats '08."