comscore Obnoxious TV political ads can feel like a home invasion | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Obnoxious TV political ads can feel like a home invasion


I was sitting in my recliner with my two granddaughters on my lap enjoying the TV Halloween special "Scared Shrekless."

It was the first time I had the kids settled down all day, and the peace was blissful — until the TV cut to commercials and a pilau political ad came on.

The girls were off like shots, resuming running around the house like maniacs, and I would never find out whether Donkey, Puss in Boots and Gingerbread Man could scare down the ogre.

It was the moment the foul tone of the 2010 election campaign officially made me cry "AAARRRRGH!"

It wasn’t just the nastiness of the ads, but their unprecedented volume, whether measured by numbers or decibels.

Between a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lifted the lid on spending by special interests and a noxious national political environment that drew millions of mainland dollars to competitive races in Hawaii, the trashy TV attacks ran relentlessly, dropping one after another like cow pies in a pasture.

The endless shouting was the political equivalent of home invasion; it’s a constructive way to elect our leaders only if the goal is to terminally alienate the electorate.

How are we supposed to feel good about sending someone to Congress whom we couldn’t stand to have blaring from the TV in our living rooms anymore?

Political campaigning has become blood sport for the malicious, and it’s reflected in the ugly polarization our government. Those who show little respect while they campaign get little respect after they’re elected.

Voters are tired of marking the ballot with one hand while holding their noses with the other, and it gets easier every election to understand why so many people just don’t bother.

Those who succeed in winning elections under this system in which it pays to keep half the voters home by being crude and obnoxious are never going to change the rules.

The only way things will change is if all those nonvoters show up at the polls some election year with a determination to make poor political manners a liability instead of a winning formula. Don’t hold your breath on that.

If you think this year’s campaign went on forever, wait until 2012, when Hawaii’s primary will be moved up to the second Saturday in August and the general election bashing gets started six weeks earlier. Can you imagine another month and a half of this yammering?

Today we can celebrate that the noise is over — for this year, at least.

Unfortunately, it’s also the day that winning candidates begin the quieter business of paying back the folks who put up the money for all the ads by granting them official favors at the public’s offense.

David Shapiro can be reached at or


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