Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra’s new Super Bowl ad is drawing jeers for its depiction of a Chinese woman thanking his opponent, Debbie Stabenow, for helping to build up her country’s economy.
For all the outrage, it’s just the latest in a wave of racially charged ads in which Asian workers gleefully celebrate America’s economic decline.
Here’s the Hoekstra spot, which ran statewide on Sunday.
This “Asians dancing over America’s grave” formula is fast establishing itself as a genre of political advertising unto itself. Hoekstra’s ad was close in concept to a 2010 spot by a third party group supporting then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in her primary against Bill Halter. The organization, Americans For Job Security, featured Bangalore residents thanking Halter for outsourcing jobs. Lincoln condemned the ad immediately, but used similar messaging in her own materials.
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), running in a special election last year, ran an ad during the debt ceiling debacle in which a futuristic Chinese newscaster credited the decision to borrow more money with eventually enabling the Chinese army to invade Washington.
Amodei’s ad was mostly a low budget remake of this slick (and much parodied) ad by Citizens Against Government Waste, which featured a near-future Chinese classroom in which a professor explains how, thanks to the stimulus bill and health care reform, Americans “work for us.”
As Jon Huntsman learned this election, it only gets worse if a candidate actually worked in Asia. This DSCC ad against Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) depicted his candidacy as the final phase of a smiling Hong Kong billionaire’s grand scheme to steal our jobs.
Of course, this is just a narrow subset of the Asia-baiting genre: a New York Times analysis of the 2010 race found a bipartisan onslaught of outsourcing-themed attacks, in which 29 candidates aired China-related ads in a one week period alone.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.