2004–Kerry Ad–Olivia Berardi
Perhaps the most basic of Presidential television campaign advertisements have served to highlight the outstanding achievements of a given presidential candidate. Generally speaking, those television advertisements outlining the life-story of a given candidate are far simpler to write, and similarly, easier for the general public to follow in comparison to advertisements that tackle real policy issues, or ones that attack the platform of an opposing candidate. The purpose of life-story advertisements is to familiarize the viewer with the candidate in light of his character; references to his policies tend to come secondary in more personal advertisements, while family ties and personal experiences come to the forefront.
This ad, in particular, entitled “Lifetime,” serves to explain the 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s origins, and proceeds to recount his history of patriotic accomplishments which have lead him to pursue the office of the President of the United States. At the beginning of the advertisement, it appears as though the clip is merely a chronological account of John Kerry’s life, in efforts to depict this exemplary leadership capacity, and associated experiences that have shaped his strong character. However, after the first few frames, we begin to recognize a trend of military references, which soon culminate in a substantial homage to Senator Kerry’s heroic service during the Vietnam War. Here, we see that the advertisement has a decidedly militaristic bend, which serves to underscore Senator Kerry’s patriotism, dedication to persons in the armed forces, capacity to lead and negotiate, and overall track-record that makes him appear “worthy” of the Presidency.
As the advertisement states, John Kerry was born in an Army hospital in Colorado, and comes from a military family. His voluntary service in Vietnam is more than his competitor, George W. Bush, or President Bush’s Vice Presidential Candidate, Dick Cheney, can boast. One might think that George W. Bush’s political lineage would be the ideal background for a Presidential candidate. However, the advertisement depicts John Kerry’s roots and military and political experience as qualifications that surely merit the Presidency. An informed viewer would contrast Kerry’s military service with the lack-there-of in both George W. Bush and Vice Presidential Candidate Dick Cheney.
The advertisement goes further to acknowledge Senator John Kerry’s alliance with Senator John McCain, in the quest to “find the truth about POW’s and MIA’s in Vietnam.” Although this statement is vague, the viewer can only assume that this references a concerted dual-party effort to provide remedy for others who have served in the armed forces. At least, this cross-party partnership emphasizes John Kerry’s apparent ability to put party-politics aside in order to afford justice where justice has been denied to Americans fighting in our armed forces.
Indeed, this advertisement serves not only to acquaint the viewers with John Kerry as an individual; equally as paramount in the goals of this advertisement is to paint John Kerry as the most patriotic of candidates. The notion of having protected our nation conjures a heroic, masculine, and fearless image. This advertisement serves to illustrate that Senator Kerry has all of the qualities and experiences that our greatest past presidents have had; he looks like a President, has served in the armed forces and the Senate, and calls upon real individuals to testify to his acts of heroism in the name of the United States—on paper, he is the quintessential presidential candidate.
The sign-off “A lifetime of service and strength” encapsulates a Presidential candidate that is sympathetic to the “every-man,” and also capable of fervent leadership. Overall, the advertisement seems to say that America would be safe and secure in the hands of John Kerry. Interestingly, this advertisement does not speak at all to George W. Bush’s lack of accomplishments in the specific areas that John Kerry demonstrates expertise. However, any informed voter would be cognizant of Bush’s comparative dearth in both military service, creation of jobs, and ability to cooperate with other party members in a progressive manner. Any uninformed voter might likely be swayed by the veridical nature of this advertisement, including John Kerry’s military background, the personal accounts, and his actions as Senator that have produces real change to which a variety of Americans can relate.