Garfield's Political AdReview: Spots fail to separate Lieberman from pack

By Published on .

He's short. He's Jewish. He's a U.S. Senator.

Joe Lieberman, historically speaking, in trying to get elected to the White House, is not dealing from a position of strength. Furthermore, he's from Connecticut, close enough to the epicenter of Eastern elitism to harm him in fly-over country, but with no corresponding electoral-college bonanza to count on.

Furthermore: those jowls. This man doesn't need New Hampshire. He needs Botox.

That said, when the first wave of primaries is over, Lieberman is one of five likely to remain standing, along with Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Kerry and probably a limping John Edwards. He's a credible candidate with the requisite name recognition, but a little problem with USP. He's so middle-of-the-road (can you be extremely middle-of-the-road?) he faces challenges distinguishing himself from the field.

Some candidates are created by political consultants. Lieberman came out of a centrifuge.

Thus his first two campaign spots, which stake out his position as the respectful opposition on President Bush's Iraq policy ("I didn't play politics. I voted to support our troops and finish the job.") and the disrespectful opposition on the Bush tax cuts.

"Look at this," he says, brandishing a newspaper. "The Republicans are talking about billions of dollars in new tax breaks for corporations. It's unbelievable. They're going to ransack the whole Social Security trust fund if we don't stop them. I'm Joe Lieberman and I approve this message because we need to restore integrity and fairness to our taxes. My plan shuts down the outrageous loopholes for corporations. It raises rates for those who can afford it, and cuts taxes for the middle class. It's the right thing to do."

But not quite the right point to make. Lieberman isn't running against Bush at the moment, and he neglects to point out how different-and potentially lucrative to the ordinary earner-his plan is vis-a-vis his Democratic competition.

These are not bad spots; they're substantive on two crucial issues facing the electorate. But this marketer breaks a cardinal rule: If you have differentiating news to deliver, deliver it. Those that squander USP are doomed to finish DOA.

Joe Lieberman

Integrity Minded Media, Washington, D.C.

2.5 stars

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