Bangalore Loves Bill Halter

Courtesy of the “Americans for Job Security“, I now have a new favorite political attack ad of all time.*

As political junkies across the country closely watch the Arkansas Senate race and Senator Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AK AR) struggle to hold onto her seat, the “Americans for Job Security” have released this ad against Bill Halter, Lincoln’s opponent in the Democratic primary:

As I’ve probably mentioned before, Bangalore is my family’s hometown and it isn’t everyday when you see an entire campaign spot filled with characters who represent your relatives. It’s extra special when you actually recognize streets and stores in the background of said advertisement. (More on this a bit later.)

Here’s a quick look at why I find this ad so interesting:

1) As Amardeep of Sepia Mutiny points out, “the “our jobs are going to India” bogie [sic] is also still alive and well in American politics.” (I was hoping this meme peaked in 2004.)

2) Despite outward appearances, this ad wasn’t produced by Senator Lincoln or her allies. According to Open Secrets, Americans for Job Security is a “a pro-Republican, pro-business organization” that was founded in 1997. Executive Director David Carney formerly worked for President George H.W. Bush.

3) In a post titled “Worst Ad Ever? Arkansas Senate Race Hits New Low”, Politics Daily reports that Lincoln spoke out against the ad on Saturday:

“I condemn the television ad reportedly scheduled to air in Arkansas sponsored by a group called Americans for Job Security,” Lincoln said. “It is offensive and doesn’t belong in Arkansas. As a victim myself of constant negative attack ads by outside third party groups since early March, I deeply regret that their participation in this campaign isn’t more constructive.”

4) Despite the condemnation noted above, a quick glance at the Facts section of Lincoln’s election website shows the extent the Lincoln campaign is playing up Halter’s ties to India. On the first page alone the word “India” shows up 22 times, while “Outsourcing” and “Bangalore” pop up 13 and 7 times respectively.

5) Finally, a shout out to the producers of the spot. To their credit, that is actually Bangalore on the green screens behind the actors. At 00:20 you can see a glimpse of Jayanagar’s 4th Block. (You can even clearly read the Raymond’s sign.)

*If you are curious, my former favorite attack ad of all time can be found here.


14 thoughts on “Bangalore Loves Bill Halter

  1. Shankar Narasimhan says:

    Can you explain your use of the term “bogie”(sic)? It is a fact that American jobs are being lost due to outsourcing. That is the definition of outsourcing. Some of the largest companies here in India have business models based on outsourcing. And their sole competitive advantages are availability of a lot of reasonably educated Indians and the unavailability of similarly high paying jobs catering to the Indian economy. ie: the competitive strengths of the likes of Infosys, TCS etc are the over population of India and the fact that the economy is so fucked up that no business catering to the Indian industry can match the salaries that these IT giants pay.
    I as an Indian want to see my country grow. But not at the expense of another nation.
    Try working as a freelance journalist in India. I challenge you to come here and do it for a year. That will teach you to show some respect to a country that has been kind enough to put up with the likes of you.
    I see that you are a Gandhi, so you must be originally from Gujarat. You blog about “representation of South Asian culture in the Western media”. Go to Gujarat and try talking about the problems faced by Muslim slum dwellers in Ahmedabad or the problems faced by the displaced poor due to urban development. The reactions of your fellow Gujaratis should be a lesson enough in the fabled tolerance of Indians.
    Be fucking happy that the Americans don’t borrow a page from MNS or Shiv Sena and take the job stealing debate to the streets.
    Be happy that you are in a society that respect your rights to criticize them while feeding off their economy.
    Be happy that the Americans are not like Indians. You wouldn’t last long if they were.

    Signing off

    • Lakshmi says:

      I see that you are a Gandhi, so you must be originally from Gujarat.

      Um, nope. As the post says, my family is from Bangalore (how we got the Gandhi name is a long-ish story that I doubt you are interested in hearing.)

      You blog about “representation of South Asian culture in the Western media”. Go to Gujarat and try talking about the problems faced by Muslim slum dwellers in Ahmedabad or the problems faced by the displaced poor due to urban development.

      I’m missing how that fits with the theme of my blog, but ok. Anyhow, have a great day!

  2. @ Shankar Narasimhan

    I’m not Indian by birth, association, or even travel. I like some Indian movies, and I have been known to enjoy a good Indian meal!

    But I know rudeness when I see it, and I know an unwillingness to engage. Neither the blogosphere nor the America you seem to be claiming to believe in needs any more of either.

    @ Lakshmi Very interesting post! None of this was anywhere even near my radar, and I thank you for narrowing the boundaries of my ignorance.

    • Lakshmi says:

      Thank you, Emily! I feel the same way about your blog. I’ve learned so much about Israel because of your work.

  3. alexlobov says:

    Our good friend Shankar has clearly missed the point. It’s ironic that a supposedly pro-Republican group would run this kind of ad, considering that Republicans are, of course, far bigger proponents of the removal of trade barriers than Democrats.

    “I as an Indian want to see my country grow. But not at the expense of another nation.” Unfortunately, capitalism being a zero-sum game and all, it’s always at someone else’s expense that we make considerable gains. Thems the breaks. I don’t know a great deal about India’s trade patterns but I’m sure that there’s plenty of exploitation of someone else going on.

    Besides, even if India’s riches aren’t at the expense of ‘another country’, another flag, and another people… many of them are arguably at the expense of exploiting India’s poorest, it’s *own* people. The ‘displaced poor due to urban development’ for example. So which is worse?

    And I fail to see how the intolerance of some Indians, groups like the Shiv Sena and MNS, are at all a reason why racist ads in the US are somehow justified.

    A confused rant indeed.

  4. I live in Arkansas and saw the ad air on television several times yesterday. I was absolutely disgusted and am very concerned as to what this ad could do to the debate here in my state.

    Thank you for adding some insight into the ad. I have doubts that is anything more than a way to “Thanks, white man, for giving us these jobs in this strange, foreign land that is totally different from Arkansas!” And that’s putting it nicely.

    I am sorry someone personally attacked you and assumed you were attacking America. You weren’t. 🙂

    • Lakshmi says:

      Hi, Bellsouth! So the ad is getting fairly heavy airplay? How is it being received by “average voters”? Thanks for visiting.

  5. Arjun says:

    This type of thing (painting a candidate in a negative light by pointing out their relationship with India) definitely did not peak in 2004. Didn’t the Obama campaign try to anonymously release a statement calling with the headline “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)” because of the Clintons’ personal and professional ties to India?

  6. ARIndian says:

    While I don’t have voting abilities as a foreign alien, I am a full time resident of Arkansas, and I would say this ad gets a pretty decent airtime (it was aired a while ago as a lead-in for Meet the Press on NBC). I was appalled (as I had been with the earlier times when it was aired-just couldn’t check online immediately) to see the ad and am not surprised to see that it has got (inter)national attention (can’t say if it is good or bad, though). Sad to see they they stoop down this low. Nice writeup!

    PS: Blanche Lincoln is a democrat nominee from Arkansas, not Alaska as your post says (D-AK instead of D-AR). Typo, perhaps?

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