Americans United for Change, a liberal group that seeks to “create a groundswell for a return to the traditional progressive values that have defined America,” plastered the airwaves during this Sunday morning’s political talk shows with a jingoistic ad that tries to tar opposition to ethanol by linking it to Saudi Arabia (below).
For the life of me, I can’t imagine why any self-proclaimed “progressive” group would back ethanol, a motor fuel manufactured from corn that increases the price of food and gasoline. By rendering food & fuel costlier, America’s ethanol policy hurts the poor the most, due to the fact that these basic necessities constitute a larger part of poor peoples’ income. Bluntly put, support for ethanol is regressive.
But that’s an aside to my main point: The advertisement is disgusting, if you’re the sort, like me, that doesn’t begrudge human beings for not being American. It’s clearly a play on anti-Arab sensibilities. Opposition to ethanol is a terrible thing, the ad tells us, because it is associated with evil Saudi Arabia, a.k.a., “the Kingdom.” Period. In the ad’s universe, if it’s Saudi, it’s bad.
This is, alas, the second lefty, xenophobic energy TV spot that recently has aired. In January, billionaire hedge fund environmentalist Tom Steyer produced an equally appalling public (dis)service announcement in opposition to Keystone XL. In Steyer’s over-the-top ad, the bogeyman was China. Keystone is a “sucker’s deal” for America, the narrator avers, because the pipeline’s real beneficiary is allegedly China (below).
Washington Post gave the ad 4 Pinocchios, the paper’s highest possible condemnation of untruthfulness. In addition to being full of lies, the ad is tasteless. Indeed, it took an identical tack as the Americans for United Change spot, except the Saudis were replaced by the Chinese. That is, in the Steyer ad’s universe, if it’s Chinese it’s bad. Classy stuff!
To be sure, I understand why Americans United for Change and Tom Steyer would resort to such dirty politics. Their policy prescriptions–more ethanol, less Canadian oil–are awful for the public at large, for reasons that are detailed here, here, and here by my colleague Marlo Lewis. Because they can’t back their respective positions with a rational argument, Steyer et al. descend to the gutter, and appeal to the basest instincts.