See Spot. See spot finally run on TV.
AMLO (Andres Manuel López Obrador), called by the right “the most dangerous man in Mexico” (that was his old student ID photo in my last post) had finally caught a break. His 2006 campaign for the Presidency, after a detour through an attempt to remove him from office (he was the head of government of the Federal District at the time — “mayor” of Mexico City, about the equivalent in U.S. politics of being Governor of California and mayor of New York both… in other words, a strong contender for the Presidency) over a dubious eminent domain case, then subject to a barrage of negative adversing, followed by a suspiciously close election (losing by about half a percentage point), followed by a media blackout of the massive protests in the streets, followed by a questionable decision by the elections commission to destroy the ballots, including those his party suspected of having been tampered with… followed by…
… a media blitz designed to make his “shadow presidency” (something pioneered by 1988’s PAN candidate, Manuel de Jesús Clouthier del Rincón , in which Vicente Fox served as the shadow Secretary of Agriculture) an object of ridicule. With his own party, PRD, inching closer and closer to a mainstream, not dissident, one, AMLO made some absurd mistakes, allying for minor parties with sometimes less than suitable candidates for down-ballot offices, before hitting on a forumula where it’s harder to mock him — a “minor” party that went from non-existence to the second largest of the minority parties in one election, and which has parity with the ruling PRD in the Mexico City Assembly. And… according to all polls… is the odds on favorite for President in 2018.
Which means, it’s time for more attacks… or, preferable to his opponents… denying him a media platform. OK, AMLO is no spring chicken (he and I are about the same age) but much of his support comes from a base similar to that of the U.S. “insider” dissident and reformer, Bernie Sanders (or Ron Paul, a few years back… one doesn’t deny that AMLO has his eccentricities). Geeks and students might even be more of a benefit in a poor country like ours, where print media is expensive (and difficult to distribute), and radio and television … while the most common source of news coverage… has been the focus of official attention and the focus of traditional politics. Which leaves the Internet… and “there’s an app for that” if you want to download AMLO’s messages.
While the Elections Commission (INE) has strict rules on what can, and can’t be in a political ad, they haven’t really considered things like “youtube” videos. TV networks MUST show political ads, and the number and timing of ads has to be roughly equal for all parties. AMLO’s opponents were the first to take advantage of the gray areas around youtube and other alternative distribution channels, creating “danger for Mexico” ads (run by an innovation from north of the border… “citizens groups” financed by private business organizations) that were pulled off television. But, they were talked about in the other media (including on television) and got widely seen as youtubes, or downloaded to the cell phones that one will find even in small villages where one is unlikely to find any private landlines. AMLO has started going the other direction… crafting on-line videos that could be run as television commercials. Crafted with the parameters of a party ad AMLO’s “presidential airplane” ad was STILL denied television airtime by INE, but … after three months of constant chatter on the internet, the Electoral TRIBUNAL (a sort of court of appeals for the Commission) decided it can be shown.
At issue in the ad is the 7 thousand million pesos (7 US Billion), or 564 million dollars spent on new aircraft for the Presidency. That includes the 218 million dollar new presidential Boeing 787 Dreamliner (“Air Force One” is a mere 747 modified for military use)… maybe AMLO is stretching the numbers a bit, but then… he’s a politician, and it was a big issue… three months ago when the video first came out. Maybe the tribunal just decided the issue has died down enough, or that everybody’s already seen the “spot”… or they’re missing the point that AMLO is making… that he’s cheap, and wants an “austere” government that doesn’t waste a lot of money on inessentials (instead of things like… oh… food, shelter, clothing, heath care, education, old-age pensions…). And, OK, it’d be a used plane, but he’s willing to sell it off.
All that trouble over a 30 second ad… coming soon, even to Televisa: