Pete Hoekstra's Chinese "Now" ad (Debbie Spendit Now, Super Bowl, racism, stupidity, corruption)
The video below (cached) is a controversial new ad from former Rep. Pete Hoekstra that ran during the Super Bowl. In it he calls his opponent for Senate from Michigan Debbie Stabenow "Debbie Spendit Now" and refers people to the site debbiespenditnow.com.
The ad has set off a veritable firestorm of negative comments from the usual suspects, and the ad and the reaction to it are a microcosm of serious problems the U.S. has:
1. We have various trade-related problems with China and other countries and Detroit and Michigan have been negatively impacted by various issues mostly relating to trade. Those supporting or opposing the ad don't have fixing those problems as their highest priorities.
2. Is the ad racist? Of course not. Professional grievance mongers are just saying that for political gain. For instance, a Detroit reverend says "The Asian woman speaking in this video would be no different than him having a black person speaking in slave dialect."  No one speaks in slave dialect any more, but no doubt millions of Chinese who know English speak similar to the lady in the ad. People whose first language isn't English do tend to have country/region-specific problems with English; all the hundreds or thousands of such people I've personally encountered aren't putting on an act as far as I know. Plus, she's an attractive actress and not, for instance, a buck-toothed Japanese male with thick glasses speaking in an exaggerated fashion.
An Asian & Pacific Islander group says, "It is very disturbing that Mr. Hoekstra's campaign chose to use harmful negative stereotypes that intrinsically encourage anti-Asian sentiment."  What stereotype? That millions of Chinese people do exactly what's depicted in the ad? How exactly are riding a bicycle or working in a rice paddy (as millions upon millions of Chinese do) "negative" or "harmful"? The only slight point they might have is that the ad might "encourage anti-Asian sentiment". Somewhere, somehow there might be one or two yahoos who might be more likely to want to go beat up someone who looks Chinese after the ad, but the same is true of most ads (for instance, GOP ads that scapegoat "greedy" schoolteachers or Democratic Party ads that scapegoat Wall Streeters).
To look at it another way, Hoekstra is originally from the Netherlands, and let's imagine we had some sort of conflict with that country. Would an ad showing someone speaking English with a Dutch accent in a typical Dutch setting be racist or stereotypical? No. If that person was dressed in clogs, wore a big dress, and carried a plate of cookies in one hand and a bong in the other, then there just might be an issue. However, the woman in Hoekstra's ad isn't doing anything like that.
Hoekstra's site is more than a bit over the top and a bit more questionable than the ad, but it just looks like an exaggerated version of a Chinese menu.
3. Some of those outraged by the ad are professional Republicans who want to remain respectable or who can't figure out how to deal with the ad correctly. But, they're great at running away, such as GOP consultant Mike Murphy saying the ad is "really, really dumb"  and Jazz Shaw saying "there’s absolutely no way this doesn’t just fan the flames and come off as racist" . No doubt there are many other examples.
4. While some of those on the left negatively reacting to the ad are just Gramscians who are ready to jump at any chance to get their names in the paper, others - left or right - might have another agenda. Some of those speaking negatively of the ad might be doing so in the belief that the ad would hamper their attempts to further sell the U.S. out to China. Some might call the ad racist not because they actually think that but simply because they're corrupt supporters of globalism.
5. Current or potential Hoekstra fans don't have what it takes to defend him against the backlash to the ad. For examples, see the waste-of-space comments at . Many don't think the ad is racist, but none of them are willing or able to mount a defense of the ad that would be effective.
6. The ad might not even reflect the reality of the Hoekstra/Stabenow conflict. The Michigan Democratic Party released a response ( peekURL.com/vb6kEJJ ) in which they claim that Hoekstra is a free-spender. And, Stabenow has apparently taken some actions to deal with China: Stabenow planned a Monday conference call to "discuss evidence that the Chinese are strong-arming Michigan businesses" into handing over intellectual property and technology as a cost of doing business in China. . And, the financial argument made by the ad is probably not accurate; fiscal cons are some of the least trustworthy people around. One thing is clear: the Chinese are strong nationalists, and in the U.S. the elites try to tamp down nationalism as much as possible and encourage globalism. China's nationalism and willingness to support key industries - rather than the libertarian fantasy of a free market solving all problems - is probably more the key to their success than the money that the U.S. has borrowed from them.
7. For Hoekstra, the ad was a stupid thing to do because the debate the ad is going to kick off is about whether it's racist or not, not about our relationship to China. And, the ad is something that his supporters aren't able to and/or aren't willing to defend.
ADDED: I fixed a couple of grammatical errors. Another GOP hack who's proficient at least at running away is John Podhoretz. He says (twitter dot com/jpodhoretz/status/166595884790976515) "Attention: psychotic Pete Hoekstra ad is by Fred Davis, creator of "demon sheep" and "I'm not a witch." Is Hoesktra insane?". Also, Hoekstra's staff has been deleting negative comments about the ad from their Facebook page; see deleted comments for my take on that general issue. See #5 above: if Hoekstra hadn't created an ad beyond his fans' abilities, they could have left comments on his Facebook page attempting to show his detractors wrong.
2/16/12 UPDATE: The actress in the ad has been identified and she's issued a full and completely voluntary confession (link):
"I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities," Lisa Chan wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. "I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions."
Chan is a model/actress who graduated with a degree in Sociology from University of California at Berkeley. She's also Miss Napa Valley 2012. Hopefully she'll turn in her crown after realizing how much beauty contests objectify women.
2/17/12 UPDATE: Some time after the last update, Hoekstra removed his ad (previous Youtube ID kxw4uZAezaI). I replaced it with one of the many duplicates. Did he think no one would notice that he'd removed his ad?
7/7/12 UPDATE: That video was removed by the user, trying again with another copy.