If you freeze-frame it at 0:06, you'll see some blurry headlines about Ravenstahl's 2005 Heinz Field altercation with a police officer and his 2007 Tiger Woods stalking jag at Oakmont. Yet clearly the thrust of the ad is the overpriced garbage cans, the Water Authority bond deal, and false claims of tax-cutting prowess.
I asked some folks on the Dowd campaign gingerly whether this was the most serious artillery they might have fired at crunch-time, and the responses I've received have been variations upon, "Luke has done so much awful stuff over the past three years, it was impossible to fit it all in to a 30 second spot."
True -- but not "true enough". The ad was 30 seconds long, yet the campaign has lasted three months and we're still getting a steady diet of garbage cans and bond swaptions.
The rapid series of promotions of three police officers dogged by domestic abuse allegations obviously enraged Patrick Dowd on a personal level (I've got to get that footage of the public safety forum up eventually). And the Pat Ford thing, not to repeat myself, was kind of a big deal. Just to pile on, I think the Mayor's grossly cynical handling of Hill District development and his support of a wrong-headed North Shore land giveaway are overripe for criticism as well.
I suppose the three explicit charges and the two charges that only a blogger would notice all build upon the theme of "embarrassment", which is after all the title of the ad. It could be that the Dowd campaign has calculated that it's futile to inundate the public with new and complex information at this point, and would rather harp on a user-friendly theme that might resonate.
If "embarrassment" was the way to go, one might have photoshopped Luke's face onto a picture of an infant or juxtaposed it with a picture Alfred E. Newman, or maybe utilized something like the Baby Elephant Walk in lieu of the Generic Negative Ad / Law and Order Denouement music, but that's not the point I'm making.
The point I'm making was offered by a very generous commenter:
However, you suggest that if the facts of [the Pat Ford] mess were brought to light, it could pull support away from the incumbent and to one of the challengers. In fact, it could be argued this scenario is the ONLY way for one of the challengers to win ... I think this says a great deal about the quality of the challengers and an indictment of the campaigns they are running. That's why the mayor wins in a landslide.
I don't know about the "quality" of the challengers -- my criticism extended explicitly to the media, who after all is permitted and somewhat obligated to raise issues of their own accord -- but it does raise questions about how serious they are. There are certain places they evidently do not feel comfortable going for whatever reason.
Case in point -- during the WPXI debate, Ravenstahl's budget again came under attack, and the incumbent this time proudly and extensively used the state oversight board's "lauding approval" of his budgets as cover. This time Dowd finally attempted to interject, "and that's something we're going talk about, that's..." But he was cut off for time.
Will we in fact hear it? I'm interested to find out. There are rumors that State Sen. Jim Ferlo may be retiring after this present term, and I'm interested in whether Dowd is playing things safely in anticipation of that opening.
TANGENT: You want negative? This is some pretty awesome negative.