In the Smith house, that meant gaining the skills necessary to tweak the rabbit ears. You do remember rabbit ears, don’t you? (Readers under a certain age are now scratching their heads. They get that same expression when you tell them phones once had rotary dials.)
At various times our rabbit ears went from looking like the standard-issue RCA setup to the coat hangar and aluminum foil contraption favored by my father. Dad was a master scientist with a roll of Reynolds Wrap.
In the Henderson of the early 1960s, our rabbit ears ensured we would get one station reasonably well. The other looked like San Francisco in a heavy fog, but we took what we could get. In those days, it was rabbit ears or radio.
These days, the picture on your television is much clearer, but I’ll wager the messages you’re receiving in the race for the U.S. Senate between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle are as fuzzy as in days of old.
You’re probably already tempted to adjust your sets or throw them out a window. The only certainty is that the messages will increase in intensity from now until November as the candidates attempt to carpet bomb the airwaves with advertisements meant to scare you into the nearest fallout shelter. (Don’t even try to explain fallout shelters to people under a certain age.)
To hear Reid’s allies tell it, Angle is too extreme for Nevadans. She wants to abolish the Department of Education and other federal agencies. She opposes health care reform, was against the big government bailouts and stimulus programs and has said she wouldn’t have called banks to attempt to save thousands of jobs and assist the multibillion-dollar CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip.
That’s extreme. Be very afraid.
Angle, meanwhile, notes with a flourish that unemployment in America was around 4 percent when Reid became senate majority leader. Now it’s more than 14 percent in Nevada with little sign of improvement on the horizon. Reid might be from Searchlight, but most of his friends are Washington fat cats. He is the aging poster boy for a big, bloated government America can no longer afford.
He’s just too out of touch. Be very afraid.
Meanwhile, to hear him tell it, Reid has used his whopping Washington clout and contacts to make sure Nevada receives many millions in federal programs and grants for everything from solar energy construction to highway projects. Where would Nevadans we be without him?
On the other hand, Nevada needs a fiscally conservative leader to help us pull out of a multitrillion-dollar federal debt and defeat the suspiciously socialist policies of the Obama administration.
And on it goes.
Although Reid enjoys a substantial fundraising advantage over Angle, both are expected to have enough cash on hand to get out their various positive and negative messages. The fear mongering will be relentless.
Reid’s positive advertisements would almost make you believe there’s no unemployment in Nevada with all the green energy jobs being created thanks to the senator. But his hammering of Angle on some of her public comments is a major reason the latest statewide Review-Journal/8NewsNow survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows the race a dead heat with Reid at 43 percent and Angle at 42 percent.
Angle has started to air warm spots that attempt to soften her public image, but she’s been most effective when she’s focused on the foundering economy and questioned Reid’s Washington clout.
Positive commercials are nice, but the hard-hitting ones are the preferred weapon in the air war. That means you’ll be seeing a lot more of Angle and Reid in sepia tones accompanied by sinister music.
Whether you have rabbit ears or DirecTV, don’t try to adjust your sets: The picture won’t get any clearer between now and November.
John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He also writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at (702) 383-0295 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.