Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Eric Greitens' New Ad Almost Wins Conservative Bingo (But Forgets 'Snowflake')

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 6:26 AM

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Eric Greitens' new TV commercial has everything: "Fake news" funding a conspiracy. "A liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros" pressing charges. "Democratic leadership" orchestrating "false attacks" against a Navy SEAL. DON'T LET THE LIBERALS GET AWAY WITH IT, the narrator intones. All that in under 30 seconds!

Indeed, if Greitens was briefly posing as contrite last week after prosecutors dropped the invasion of privacy case against him, this week, he's back to broadcasting his true colors. In a dizzying display of demagoguery and calculated cynicism, the ad ticks all the right buzzwords off your 2018 edition Conservative Bingo Card, leaving only “snowflake” and “cuck” on the table for reasons unknown. It's basically a Fox News ticker with more ominous background music.


At least now we can guess what Greitens has been doing in his spare time now that "working out" is no longer an option: he must be watching Alex Jones and going to dorky drama club meetings to learn how to set the scene.

In the ad he dropped yesterday, Greitens isn't just governor, he's "Navy SEAL Eric Greitens" (because the SEALs just love being associated with this stuff). And as far as the ad is concerned, Greitens' shady history is a total nothingburger. He's just a blazer-wearing, firm-handshake-giving, upstanding government official who happens to be shown almost exclusively in profile.

The ad is so ludicrous, it seems to exist only to stoke a level of political paranoia we haven't seen since the days a politician could rise in the polls solely by uttering "Ferguson effect" over riot footage.  Well, that and to try to derail the impeachment push now underway in the Missouri House. The two goals certainly work in tandem.

It's all so hilariously, cluelessly over-the-top that you can easily imagine Greitens saying to his creative agency that designed the ad, "I like the script, but where's the part where I get to shoot a gun?" He's big on symbolism, that Greitens, and he just loves a big gun. This little 30-second soap opera is the "conservative family values" governor at his most flamboyant. We kept expecting him to throw a drink in sombody's face, honestly. Pass the popcorn; this thing is sure to win a Daytime Emmy Award.

Greitens dropped the ad on Facebook yesterday, and you'll be able to see it on many, many St. Louis TV stations in the coming days. The Greitens campaign has purchased more than $129,000 of air time in the St. Louis market alone, the Kansas City Star reports.


In the mean time, Missouri House members on the committee weighing impeachment have been doing some theater of their own: a staged reading of the deposition in which Greitens' former hairdresser was grilled by the governor's attorneys for nine and a half hours.

Down in Jefferson City (or on the live stream offered by the committee), you can hear these older gentlemen asking the 35-year-old woman such pertinent questions as whether she ever had a belly-button ring (a long time ago), whether she ever did drugs (nope) and whether she was on any dating sites (she was not).

Down in Jefferson City, the propaganda painting this scandal as leftist bastards vs. our heroic veteran crumbles rather swiftly. And it's not just because Republican lawmakers are the ones coming after our Navy SEAL with pitchforks. It's also that no one, not even George Soros, has paid this woman a dime. And for all Team Greitens' attempts to portray her story as fake news, a tale she might have dreamt, everyone who's spent any time with the court documents in the case or watched her interview with KSDK's Casey Nolen has found her credible.

She tells a story that's both compelling in its details and breathtakingly sad: that a man she once respected taped her to a pull-up bar and ripped off her pants, then threatened her and called her a whore. Then he pushed his penis in her face.

Even then she had no intention of blasting him publicly until her ex-husband worked in concert with a TV news reporter to shatter her privacy and drag the tawdry story into public eye — and then, she says, Greitens denied things that she knew were true. She felt she had a duty to set the record straight.

"I feel like I'm this easy punching bag, yet I haven't thrown any punches," she told Nolen. "I didn't want this. I wasn't out to get anyone. I just wanted to live my life." Greitens' treatment of her might not be criminal — only time will tell on that — but it definitely reflects terribly on his character.

And unfortunately for Greitens, even the woman's vengeful ex wasn't funded by "liberals." Instead, he and his lawyer took $50,000 in cash from a right-leaning small-town Missouri publisher with ties to, yes, Republicans. They later upped the sum to $120,000, and while we still don't know exactly who the ultimate source of the money was, it assuredly wasn't someone pushing the Soros agenda. Instead, it appears likely the donor(s) was connected to rural Missouri developers opposed to Greitens' agenda on low-income housing tax credits.

Their motives certainly bear further exploration, but Greitens' simplistic PR campaign isn't going there. After all, you don't win Conservative Bingo by checking boxes like "angry ex-husband," "governor's extra-marital affair" and "housing developers." Those are too long and too nuanced for a Fox News ticker.

And if there's anything Eric Greitens has shown mastery of in his brief, chaotic political career, it's how not to complicate a simple narrative. Blast that gun. Target that liberal prosecutor. Make an endlessly complicated Shakespearean drama into a 30-second clip. The future of your "low-tax, pro-life job-growth agenda" — not to much your own sorry hide — surely depends on it.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com
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