22 Oct 2004 Bush’s Wolves v. Reagan’s Bear in the Woods
The Daily Recycler says the new Bush-Cheney ad featuring wolves is better than the 1984 Reagan-Bush “bear in the woods” ad.
I respectfully disagree.
Bush-Cheney’s “wolves” is a nice ad, but it is less ambitious than “bear in the woods” and achieves less.
Bush’s “wolves” makes a point about John Kerry.
Reagan’s “bear” made a point about national security that transcended Reagan v. Mondale. Indeed, if the Cold War hadn’t ended, “bear in the woods” could still be run today, unaltered.
In the 1980s, Reagan faced an organized left-wing that was trying to convince the American people that the Soviet Union was not a real threat. “Bear in the woods” calmly and succinctly and ever-so-reasonably demolished the notion that America would be safe with a President who accepted this naive notion.
Bush faces a lower hurdle. The public overwhelmingly believes terrorists pose a threat. What we debate now — largely — is the best approach to facing the threat. The Bush ad criticizes Kerry directly, while the Reagan ad never mentioned Mondale, or any particular legislation or decision by anyone. The Soviets weren’t even mentioned by name. It was a statement of philosophy only, illustrated through nature — yet, everyone knew exactly what the Reagan campaign was talking about. Very difficult to pull off; yet flawlessly accomplished.
This Bush ad communicates extremely well what its creators intended to communicate. It also is very pretty to look at. But it is not better than the Reagan ’84 “bear in the woods” ad. No insult intended.
Note: I blogged about the bear in the woods ad on October 8, and provided a link in that post to a website of old presidential campaign TV commercials, where you can view “bear in the woods” and many, many other campaign commercials from days gone by.
Addendum: Jeff at The Shape of Days addresses this same point and reaches the same conclusion. Frankly, though, Jeff’s post on this is a lot better than mine. (Sigh.) Read to the end of his post to see his script suggestion for a true “bear in the woods” Bush ad. It sent shivers down my spine.