Friday, January 22, 2010

The dangers of trying to avoid political commercials

I was flipping channels last night, trying to find a program to watch -- and trying desperately to avoid political commercials.

We're having a primary in Illinois on Groundhog's Day and the attack ads are coming so thick and fast now that anyone might be tempted to crawl into Punxsutawney Phil's burrow and hide behind the ungainly rodent.

I found a Star Trek rerun on a local station and soon discovered there was a high price to pay for political commercial avoidance. The very first commercial, in fact, was for urinary catheters -- delivered to your home, apparently, by a kindly doctor with hair as white as his lab coat -- clearly the sort of good fellow who would never tell your neighbors what was in that large, but plainly-wrapped, box.

Long Suffering Spouse was entering grades on the computer. She tried her best to tune out the commercial -- but when kindly Dr. White Lab Coat held up a fistful of devices and said that Medicare used to pay for only four of these a month -- but, now, will pay for up to 200 a month -- so you never have to reuse a catheter again -- Long Suffering Spouse put her hands over her ears and started shouting "No! no! no! no!"

The next commercial was for some powder promoting prostate health. After the catheters commercial, this was almost a relief.

The funny thing is that -- in theory -- I'm in favor of unfettered political commercials. The Supreme Court's opinion yesterday in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission strikes me, on the basis of what I've heard and read so far, as mostly a good thing. Restrictions on campaign financing, however well-intended, have the (allegedly) unintended consequence of preserving incumbents in office. (I say 'allegedly' because, after all, campaign 'reform' laws are passed by lawmakers who mostly hope to keep their jobs. The numbers don't lie: Since campaign 'reforms' have been enacted, incumbent congressmen win more and more frequently.) Full disclosure of campaign financing remains necessary under the opinion (a point on which all the justices except Clarence Thomas apparently agreed). (Full disclosure of my own -- I haven't yet read the linked 183 pages of opinions and dissents.)

I say, preserve free speech -- even if it discomfits some long-tenured officeholders -- and even if it gets nasty out there.

As if it wasn't nasty already?

In the meantime, whatever my theoretical beliefs, I may resort in practice to local stations with icky medical commercials. I just have to find the remote with the mute button.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

don't you just love the mute button?

smiles, bee

Dave said...

Got to disagree with you. Corporations aren't real people. Us real people should limit them to what they are, a vehicle for economic stability, nothing more or less.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The ads we get in the post are akin to my age. Since I turned 50, they has escalated!

Ellee Seymour said...

We're coming up to an election too, though there doesn't tend to be political commercials on our TVs.

Chris said...

My mute button is just about worn out..... it's either that or throw the remote at the TV...