Monday, March 06, 2006

Capri Cafaro Wants to Make You This Fabulous Offer!!!

The first of what threatens to be a series of Capri Cafaro infomercials aired this morning. I DVR'd it, watched it and, surprise, was underwhelmed.

While my feelings about Cafaro are well documented, my feelings about infomercials have not yet made a blog post. I just don’t get them. I don’t understand how producing a thirty minute segment and buying time for it makes economic sense. I don’t know why anyone watches.

As an insomniac, I’m presumably part of the target audience for these things, yet I’ve not sat through more than maybe five minutes of one. And that was just to try and figure out Don LaPre’s scam.

I really don’t understand how anyone can tolerate the artifice of the enterprise. An infomercial generally isn’t merely a half-hour documentary about the virtues of a product. It is instead a faux program, often in the Donahue/Oprah audience input mold, about whatever it is.

Cafaro’s infomercial fits the profile. While it is framed with the McCain/Feingold “I endorsed this message” disclaimer (or is it claimer), the majority of airtime is devoted to Cafaro speaking before a suspiciously compliant audience at a town hall meeting a UAW Local 200. All that's missing is an announcer cutting in with the obligatory infomercial buzzphrases.

Over the next thirty minutes you will learn . . .

The script has Cafaro answering questions like (and this is a quote) “Are you in favor of raising the minimum wage to put real money back into working people’s hands?” While the questions are painfully scripted, the answers are not. Cafaro is responding more or less extemporaneously – something she is not particularly good at.

Indeed, the most fascinating thing about the spot is how uninspiring she is as a speaker. She is choppy and verbally peripatetic. You can see the fingerprints of image consultants on every clever aside and self-deprecating remark. After all the anonymice posting about how good she is on the stump, I expected to see that here. Not so.

The audience for this thing is hilarious. The producers actually edit in audience shots, all of which show people wearing unmistakable I’ve-been-at-this-taping-for-five-hours-now expressions. But every time Cafaro answers a question, they burst into applause.

. . . About this revolutionary new product.

The centerpiece of this townish hallish info-thing is Cafaro’s SAW proposal – Save American Workers. The centerpiece of that is offering tax incentives to Americans buying American-made goods to make them price-competitive. To do that, Cafaro acknowledges we would have to back out of every trade treaty of the past fifteen years. She seems to think our trading partners would understand.

Meanwhile, I’m more than a little dubious about the efficacy of the proposal. Consider for a moment her audience – members of the UAW. American car manufacturers are getting shellacked by the Japanese. Have you car shopped lately? The Japanese makes are almost uniformly more expensive than American-made comparables. People buy them because they are better engineered, not because they are cheaper.

Meanwhile, the thought of people saving their receipts for more-expensive American-made household goods to take advantage of the tax rebate loses me. Unless the tax incentives make American goods significantly cheaper, the simple convenience factor will still make foreign-made goods significantly more attractive. And we haven’t even mentioned the Wal-Mart effect.

Listen to these testimonials!

Early on there’s a break in the action for endorsements. First off, some guy in a UAW T-shirt. Next, one Richard Romero, probably better known in Lorain. Google results suggest he’s a Steelworkers guy.

Later Cafaro fields a question from DeAndre in Akron. DeAndre? Hmmmm.

The most unintentionally funny moment in the entire spot is when she says that, thanks to her family’s fortune, she will be beholden to no one. Yeah, and she’s proposing giving manufacturing-segment labor unions the biggest, wettest, sloppiest kiss in the history of political panders just because she thinks it’s a good idea.

And if you act now . . .

All of this is about the primary. Cafaro is putting her faith in the received wisdom that the 13th is a lock for whoever wins the Democratic primary. She’d better be right. She is setting herself up to be portrayed as a creature of labor unions, probably the least popular Democratic interest group after trial lawyers. And her economically na├»ve proposal will give plenty of ammunition to whichever the Republican faces her in November. And that’s without even mentioning immunity deals or Central Park South prior addresses.

Available only through this TV offer!

An air-war expenditure so extravagant is curious. It leaves me wondering if she is putting any of her storied jack into building a grassroots organization of if she is simply counting on the unions to deliver. She may win the primary simply by playing the name-recognition game with oxygen-sucking media buys, but she will need boots on the ground in November.

But wait, there’s more!

At the end she promises another “town hall” next Sunday morning. Stay tuned.


scott bakalar said...

Hi Pho

Scott here. Thanks for taking my call. I had to call in, because I just knew that operators would be standing by.

Were you ever able to figure out that Don LePre thing?

Thanks for watching - so I didn't have to.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for going forth and watching so we didn't have to. Although I suspect I will watch at some point, I didn't care to yesterday.

I really wonder how much this type of advertising will work. It's a great question, and I'm not aware of full-scale candidate infomercials being done before. Perhaps they have.

Still, I think SMH runs the risk of putting voters off with an idea that is at once unique yet possibility off-putting. In the name rec war though, these spots definitely force other candidates to work harder and raise money.

And that's why I've long said her pile o' cash puts her out front.

Ohio 13 said...

In terms of infomercials for candidates, the only ones I remember were Ross Perot in 1992. Of course, those were prime time... I'd bet they've been used elsewhere...



Anonymous said...

Spending money on this crap is the perfect argument for the inheritence tax...

I'd assumed her target audience was ed boards and blogs with this buy. I can't imagine its worth watching if you aren't going to write about it... And from the sound of it this is going to get her hammered by every ed board imaginable, especially the ABJ. I'm also assuming Vic isn't smart enough to intentially try and turn the ed boards against his candidate on trade issues to make her look like the real union candidate against the elites, but I suppose its possible.

CampaignAddict said...

First the buy a car and get 7% of the purchase off your taxes every year for 3 years is ridiculous from an economic standpoint, and won't work, but assuming it does... i could space out my durable goods purchases to one, maybe two, a year and get a pretty nifty tax cut. And while this may reward american companies, it doesn't reward american workers, especially those who work for foreign companies (it hurts those badly). And think of the damage to the budget deficit, if everyone was as smart as me and speced out their durable goods purchases. The plan also gives no incentive to make our products BETTER, we're rewarding inferior products with a tax cut, It's called protectionism, and it doesn't work, it never has, and only leads to trade wars. Like when american companies will try to export goods after the plan is passed and the import tarrifs from our former trading partners is so high as to make american goods practically unafordable. The tax example on her website is bogus because she assumes a 5000 buck per year tax liability which is startlingly low seeing that the irs puts the per household tax recenue around 17k (even more so if you're a SMH, cap gains taxes being what they are). So, i guess what i'm trying to say is it's bad, really bad, and sipmlistic, but beyond that its dangerous, to the american economy and american workers. All of this assumes that she'd ever have the clout in congress to get it passed of course :) sry for the long post.

Unknown said...

Did I call too late? Can I still get the free set of knives?


Anonymous said...

Her schick sounds like they sang in the opening of "The Music Man":

2nd Salesman: Now he dosen't know the territory
1st Salesman: Dosen't know the territory?!?
3rd Salesman: Whats the fellows line?
2nd Salesman: Never worries bout his line
1st Salesman: Never worries bout his line?!?
2nd Salesman: Or a doggone thing.
He's just a bang beat, bell ringing, Big haul, great go, neck or nothin, rip roarin,
every time a bull's eye salesman. Thats Professor Harold Hill, Harold Hill

[Carpetbagger Capri Cafaro, Capri Cafaro]

3rd Salesman: What's the fellows line?
5th Salesman: Whats his line?
Charlie: He's a fake, and he dosen't know the territory!
4th Salesman: Look, whaddayatalk, whaddayatalk, whaddayatalk, whaddaystalk?
2nd Saleman: He's a music man
1st Salesman: He's a what?
3rd Salesman: He's a what?
2nd Salesman: He's a music man and he sells clarinets to the kids in the town with the big trombones and the rat-a-tat
drums, big barass bass, big brass bass, and the piccolo, the piccolo with uniforms, too with a shiny gold braid
on the coat and a big red stripe runnin . . .
1st Salesman: Well, I don't know much about bands [she don't know much about Congress] but I do know you can't make a living selling big trombones, no sir.
Mandolin picks...
2nd Salesman: No, the fellow sells bands, Boys bands. I don't know how he does it but he lives like a king and he dallies
and he gathers and he plucks and shines and when the man dances, certinely boys, what else? The piper pays him! Yes sir ,yes
sir,yes sir, yes sir, when the man dances, certinely boys, what else?The piper pays him! Yessssir, Yessssir
Charlie: But he dosen't know the territory!

She sold her old man up the river and will do the same for the 13th (which will be gone in 6 years after Ohio loses 2 more US HOUSE SEATS)

Jill said...

I hope you notice that I'm staying FAR away from this post. But I will thank you, Pho, for taking the hit and watching. You are a soldier, true and brave.

Anonymous said...

First off, I am SHOCKED campaign addict that you would call American products inferior. You obviously didnt listen to the SAW plan, so dont criticize it if you cant understand it. According to Cafaro, tax cuts are for American durable goods, not "inferior" ones. Maybe thats just me talking to a Republican, if you are a Republican...

On the other hang, I wasnt overly excited with the infomercial. Maybe was an infomercial...and infomercials arent exciting. But, its people tha blog everyday in politics (a VERY small handful, less than we think) that will offer the most criticism. If anything, it gives Cafaro a huge amount of exposure. I doubt many people sat through the entire deal, but certainly notice her. She will boost her name rec even more. If she wins this election, she better do a good job. Id give her a shot, she knows her stuff.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or do alot of the pro-Cafaro posts seem to have the same style of writing?? Could it be her staff monitoring the blogs??? Nah...

Kyle said...

Nice post Pho.

I found it interesting that Capri'$ campaign opened a headquarters in Barberton to challenge Sutton on her home turf. How long before Capri goes negative?

CampaignAddict said...

i could space out my durable goods purchases to one, maybe two, a year and get a pretty nifty tax cut.

wow i'm quoting myself :)
I apologize for this post, but somtimes i just can't keep my mouth shut.

Mr. Anonymous,

I don't call american goods inferior, the mass of Americans who voraciously consume foreign goods at a cheaper cost than american goods (car companies and most things in Wall Mart being a good example) DO. I'm not saying that american products are made worse, tend to fall apart easier or anything like that, i'm just saying that if we look at a rational purchasing model people will always get that which gives them the best bang for their buck (in economics terms: a normal good, as opposed to an inferior good). Which, in America, seems to be foreign goods, especially when looking at durable goods what with there being no (magnavox went belly up didn't it?) american tv manufactureres, and with US vehicles being snubed on recent "best" lists. Oh, and by the way, i pretty much use the example Ms. Cafaro does on her website except i'm using household income tax liability numbers from the IRS website and not some random nubmer.


We can achieve this by giving America’s consumers tax incentives when they purchase durable goods made in America (those goods lasting at least 3 years, such as cars, refrigerators, washing machines, motorcycles etc.).

oh and admittedly i did say "off your taxes" and not 7 percent of the purchase off your taxes, for which i do apologize. However, 7% of your purchase off your taxes for three years (and it's really more than that if you buy smartly) is WAY more harmful to the economy, to you, and to me than just a flat 7% off your taxes especially because there is no mechanism to get the people to buy american goods with the money they would get in a tax rebate. In fact if youdo the research, most people takes saved money from taxes and use it to pay off debt. Which doesn't create jobs or help manufacutures in any direct way.

P.S. i'm a democrat :)
p.p.s. once again, sorry for the long post.

exAkron said...

I'm an exAkron Democrat now living in Washington D.C. Were it not for my current job as a Washington correspondent at a very major news organization, I would gladly identify myself.

I live here for my job, but I'm one of you.

As I said over on the Ohio 13 blog, I'm going to lay this out for you quite simply.

Nominating Cafaro would be the biggest fumble in northeast Ohio since Ernest Byner.

Right now, the GOP is just waiting and licking their chops. If this woman gets the nomination, they will take her down and pick up a seat they have no buisness winning.

Make no mistake -she will get crushed.

Dem political pros know this, but believe the people are too smart to do something as dumb as voting for this woman -the only person who can possibly lose this district for the Dems.

Anyone who doesn't think the GOP will drop a couple of million on negative attacks on her corrupt, jobless past (which will be twofer because it will help diffuse Brown's argument against Dewine) knows nothing about politics.

LaTourrette - who should have lost in 2004 - did it. And quite successfully.

These guys piss $2 million in Swift Boat money. Except it won't even be swift boating.

Ms. Cafaro is corrupt, her family is corrupt, and she has never held a job. These are 100% verifiable facts ladies and gentlemen.

Does this make you mad?

If reading this stuff on a blog in March makes you mad, just wait until it is on every TV and radio station 24/7 in October.

Wait until Dewine squeaks in by 25,000 votes -- votes from northeast Ohio that he gets because Cafaro draws angry Repubs and Independents out just to vote against her.

You'll be enraged.

How dangerous is her candidacy? If she wins the primary, she will lose the general. It could be the difference between the Democrats taking back the House or not.

So - think about what matters to you and to all of us.

In the primary, vote for anyone else - I beg of you.

Anonymous said...

ex akron's right. Just look at how much under Kerry Capri ran in 04. Of course she got clobbered in Lake, that's Steve's base. But in Geauga and Ashtabula county Steve was basically new.

In Geauga Bush beat Kerry 60 40 and Steve beat Capri 70 30.

In Ashtabula Bush lost to Kerry 52 46 and Steve beat Capri 54 45.

Overall she ran roughly 10 points under the Democratic index. Take the D index in the 13th subtract 10 points and all of a sudden a safe seat is up in the air.

Strategically there's no way anyone but Capri loses the general. Based on the numbers her candidacy can't possibly justify its risk in my mind.

exAkron said...

For the record, I'm not part of any organized effort. I acknowledged very openly that I posted a similar anti-cafaro message on another blog.

Hell, I've even written an Op-Ed which I signed and wanted to send to the ABJ, but my editor told me it is against the rules for correspondents to pen Op-Eds.

I'm just a person up too late posting because I see here on the ground in D.C. the mess that has come from one party rule.

Consider one other thing. It's not like the national Dems are so overwhelmingly moral that they are opposing her for the reasons I cited previously (lack of qualifications, ethical cloud etc...)

They oppose her because she puts a safe district at risk.

It looks like this could be a historic year for returning balance to our government.

I do not know Capri. If she wants to be a member of congress, she is going to have to do a few things.

1. Pick a district and live in it.
2. Give away the inheritance.
3. Run for city or town council, the state house and build a real following.

Until then, she is simply not a candidate that can win. She is just someone that can spend a lot of money to make noise and potentially do a lot of damage to the political process.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The "Rest of the Story" about Capri Cafaro