A Look At the Rape Survivor Ads Against McCain And Palin

Illustration for article titled A Look At the Rape Survivor Ads Against McCain And Palin

Earlier this month, I wrote about a report that the Obama campaign was recruiting a rape victim to appear in an advertisement for the campaign. That advertisement did not materialize, but three ads since have: one from Planned Parenthood about Wasilla's rape-kit policy, and two from a group called Woman Against McCain Palin. One of their ads featuring a young rape survivor appeared on MSNBC in (at least) the D.C. area last night while I was popping champagne with my friend. It is, to say the least, quite a bit more powerful than the Planned Parenthood spot (and all of them are embedded after the jump).

1. Planned Parenthood: "Heartless" The Planned Parenthood spot is much more scripted, interspersing shots of a rape survivor telling her story with voiceovers about the Wasilla policies and pictures of McCain's and Palin's floating, disembodied heads. At the end, the woman says "It scares me to death" to think that a hospital might have charged her for a rape kit. My first thought was: you were raped and that's what scares you to death? Really? It's not a good thing, goodness knows, to be charged for one's rape kit and I'm not saying that it didn't cross my mind that I didn't really want to be calling my insurance company to be pre-approved for an ER visit, but "scares me to death"? It's that kind of hyperbole that makes the ad easily dismissed.

2. Women Against McCain Palin: "Choice?" This WAMP ad shows a young woman barely holding back tears as she explains that she was raped and got pregnant — and that Sarah Palin wants the government to be able to force her to carry the pregnancy to term. It's not flashy, it doesn't feature floating heads or voice overs, and it isn't remotely hyperbolic. It's a far better ad because it doesn't appear to be using a woman's somewhat unrelated story to make a policy point — the woman in the Planned Parenthood ad didn't have to pay for her rape kit, so it's a tenuous connection to the policy Planned Parenthood and many of us object to.

3. Women Against McCain Palin: "Family Values" This ad, featuring the mother of an underage rape victim, is also strongly worded, though not quite as powerful. It also, notably, makes the point that "Sarah Palin thinks the government knows better than we do," which is the conflict inherent in the Republican party ideology of small government and the religious right's ideology of forcing the government to impose their religious views on the larger society.
Am I more comfortable with the last two ads — which were not, I'd like to stress, made by the Obama campaign — than I was with the rumored, unscripted one I initially wrote about? Sure. I don't think it would have been a good place for the Obama campaign to go, but the WAMP ads came out well without seeming exploitative. Now, if we could just politically get past the idea that there are morally defensible abortions (which implies that there are morally indefensible abortions), I'd like to do that, too. But this, at least, is a start. Choice? [YouTube] Family Values [YouTube] Heartless [YouTube] "Governor Palin....I Should Have A Choice About This" [DailyKos] Women Against McCain Palin [SaysMe.tv]


Here's another thing that boggles me: Just because abortion is legal doesn't mean your pro-life family HAS TO HAVE AN ABORTION OHMYGOD. Butting into other people's choices just absolutely makes my head spin. Say, for example: I hate crocs, but I'm not going to send your kid home from school because he or she is wearing them. I'm not going to make it illegal for you to wear them. I just ask that you don't make me wear them.