I hadn't been giving much thought to the special congressional election in California's 36th District, where voters will gather on May 17th to winnow a large field of candidates in the state's first "jungle primary." But then I peeped this item from Benjy Sarlin at TPM, regarding one candidate in the special election, Democrat Dan Adler, and his very, very puzzling and troubling campaign advertisements.
In his latest ad, Adler hangs out with a multi-ethnic crowd touting his appeal to Asian voters by pointing out that he's married to a Korean and that -- as a Jew -- he can understand what it's like to be a minority. In a weird and seemingly quite patronizing twist, a heavily-accented Korean immigrant woman in a laundromat awkwardly interrupts him throughout the ad, finally asking the camera "What's a mensch?"
Right away, you're thinking: "Whoa, now. A Korean lady in a laundromat who's constantly interrupting and dropping heavily-accented Yiddish terms on camera? If that's not handled deftly, it's going to end up looking incredibly awkward at best. At worst, it could come off as vaguely racist."
I reached out to my colleague Amanda Terkel -- who is herself Korean and Jewish -- about the ad, but she withheld comment, so I'm just going to describe her as being "stunned into speechlessness." Fortunately for all of us, the @TerkelRage twitter account was more willing to discuss the matter.
Oh, hey, that's not all! You've probably seen acclaimed American actress Patty Duke in The Patty Duke Show, or in films like Valley Of The Dolls or The Miracle Worker. But have you ever seen her grunting, hissing, and swearing in a campaign advertisement? Well now you can! (I'll warn you: unseeing this will prove to be much, much harder.)
For more on Dan Adler, here on these pages you'll find his perfectly nice reflections on the death of Osama bin Laden, and also an endorsement from Michael Eisner, in which he calls Adler "a fantastic thing" and "a fantastic thing" (he actually says this twice) and "definitely right for me" and "optimistic enough but not too Panglossian" and "I wish I lived somewhere between Venice and San Pedro so I could vote for Dan."