I’d just finished breakfast and opened the newspaper when a dyed-in-the-wool yellow dog Democrat crossed the restaurant, sat down across the table and said, ‘That new ad of Paul Newby’s makes him look like a fool.’
He was talking about the Newby Super PAC ad – which has hound dogs braying in hot pursuit of two thugs who dive into the back of a pickup truck to escape, all narrated by a fast talking banjo-picking actor singing ‘Paul Newby’s a tough ole judge.’
‘I reckon,’ the Republican sitting beside me said, ‘they figure come Election Day voters will remember ‘Paul Newby’s a tough ole judge’ but forget they heard it in that damn fool ad.’
‘So you figure,’ the Democrat snapped, ‘making Paul Newby a fool will get him elected?’
‘You’ve got to give them credit for one thing,’ the Republican said. ‘That ad sticks out. It’s not about to get buried under the clutter of Obama and Romney ads.’
That wasn’t the end of it.
Two days later on Sunday morning I was lying in bed peacefully reading the newspaper when Newby’s Super PAC ad came on TV and half-way through the banjo picking my wife’s voice echoed down the hallway from the kitchen.
That was the subtle language of marital diplomacy. Translated into plain southern English what she meant was: Tell me you didn’t have anything to do with that ad.
For once I was innocent – looking toward the doorway, I said, ‘Does that mean you’re not voting for Paul Newby?’
The hallway went silent a moment. Then my wife’s voice floated into the room again, a bit sharper, ‘Do you like that ad?’
Then I explained the theory about the Newby Super PAC, figuring by Election Day voters would remember ‘Paul Newby’s a tough ole judge’ but forget the tacky ad.
That didn’t cut much mustard with my wife – or anyone else.
Every day someone – a lawyer, a campaign worker, a man in the locker room at the health club – cornered me about that ad. On Friday I spoke at a luncheon for two dozen Republicans and as soon as the time came to ask questions a grizzle-haired fellow’s hand shot up and he asked, ‘What about that Newby ad?’
I floated the theory again about voters just remembering ‘Paul Newby’s a tough ole judge’ but the words barely got out of my mouth before a voice from the back of the room rang out like a rifle shot saying, ‘My grandmother’s got a theory too – she says pretty is as pretty does and that ad says Paul Newby can’t tell the difference between common sense and plain fool politics.’