Gotta’ Hand it to Those Super PACs

Why Jeb? post card

Post card sent out by Right to Rise this weekend in Iowa

Gotta’ Hand it to Those Super PACs
| published August 22, 2015 |

By R. Alan Clanton Thursday Review editor

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush hopes to make history by allowing his Super PAC, Right to Rise, have more-or-less free rein in managing the fundraising and volunteer efforts of his quest to become the next resident of the White House. He also hopes to be the third person from the Bush lineage to become chief executive.

But because of the laws which say that Super PACs can have no direct contact with the staff of the official campaign, and because—likewise—the top brass of the campaign can have no official or unofficial authority over the actions of the PAC, the two are legally separate operations. Any coordination of efforts is a violation of election law.

All fine and good, except that sometimes the campaign material prepared by a PAC does not meet the same standards of editing and vetting that the candidate and his or her top people would prefer.

Such was the case this weekend when a mailer was sent out to some 86,000 registered voters in select Iowa counties and precincts. At first blush, the two-sided piece seems hunky-dory by normal political mail standards—a double-sided four-color postcard, in this case, touting Bush’s conservative values by using the tagline “real conservative results” on one side, and asking the rhetorical question, why Jeb? The postcard features a handsome but obviously staged photo of Bush standing alongside the river in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Telltale shadows and hues indicate that the photo—not surprisingly—may have even been the result of composite images, the work of someone reasonably gifted with Photoshop or some such software. Bush is not likely actually standing there at the edge of that blue river, and that downtown image is certainly a stock photo. No shock, no foul, no scandal, since no Super PAC is allowed to even ask for an official portrait. This has been done dozens of times already this year, and it will happen a hundred times before the start of the Iowa caucuses in January.

But there is a more serious problem, one which might easily be called a print gaffe. In today’s parlance, it is called an epic Photoshop fail. A close inspection of Bush’s left hand shows the wrist and fingers of someone much darker than Bush—either African-American or Indian-American, but clearly not the left hand of the Caucasian Jeb Bush.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I know Jeb Bush, I met Jeb Bush (twice, actually), and that hand is no hand of Jeb Bush—left or right.

The point: this is indeed an epic fail of software management and double-checking. Some intern somewhere should be sent home for a week without pay, and the person in charge of triple-checking what gets mailed out to 86,000 voters should be dismissed, or sent with pay to assist with Governor Rick Perry’s more subdued campaign.

Why Jeb? post card showing black hand  The postcard and its hilarious foul-up has been making the rounds on social media and the internet all weekend. To make matters worse—or funnier—Right to Rise heightened excitement about the soon-to-be mailed card by urging Republicans in Iowa to check their mailboxes. In message on Facebook and Twitter, RTR boosted talk of the postcard and even included an image of the complete color card. Under the “Why Jeb?” is a big red underline meant to stress the importance of the question, but a line which instead draws the viewer inexplicably to the black hand.

But maybe it’s deliberate. Maybe it's The Black Hand, as in the proto-Mafiosa organization which collected money from people and offered protection. After all, Bush has made sport of the fact that Democrats in Florida—frustrated by his once oft-employed veto power as Governor—dubbed him “Veto” Corleone, a nickname he grew to like.

In the meantime, the postcard is sure to be valuable not only to collectors of political swag (yes, I am a hoarder, but I admit it, which means I have taken the first step), but also to folks who love the classic but sometimes costly misprints in life.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Next Debate May Force Gilmore and Others to Sidelines; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; August 11, 2015.

Server May Yield More Problems for Clinton; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; August 20, 2015.