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Election > News Hits

Master of the obvious

Deep-pocketed venture capitalist wants to be your governor; says so in TV ad


Published 2/17/2010

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Freelance contributor Corey Hall, who usually does movie reviews for this rag, volunteered to join the News Hits team this week to do a little venting over a Super Bowl commercial he found particularly irritating.

Here is Hall's pithy report:

Super Bowl viewers statewide were served an unusual side dish with their chip dip on Feb. 7: a heaping helping of politics. Slipped between the traditional big-budget adverts for Doritos, Bud and sports cars was a lo-fi, folksy campaign commercial for a political newcomer from Ann Arbor named Rick Snyder. The deep-pocketed venture capitalist beat his competition to the punch, airing this first ad six months ahead of the primary. While there was no mention of party affiliation, Snyder is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

The charmingly goofy spot touted the former Gateway exec's success in business, citing a lifelong taste for finance, as he "started reading Fortune magazine at age 8," and called the candidate "one tough nerd." This pitch was accompanied by one the most audaciously absurd claims we've ever seen in a political spot, as Snyder alleged that his 10-point plan to reinvent Michigan "is so detailed that, well, it's likely no politician could even understand it."

With the gauntlet thrown, we decided to ask a veteran Democratic politician about the plan, Oakland County Treasurer and former state Rep. Andy Meisner of Ferndale. Could Meisner possibly wrap his head around such cutting-edge notions as killing the Michigan Business Tax and installing a 6 percent flat tax on corporate income?

"I had a chance to review Mr. Snyder's 'plan,' and despite his claim that it's so detailed that no politician could even understand it, I understood it," Meisner stated. "That said, I understood it to be full of very generic, political mumbo-jumbo that you get from high-priced political consultants. 'Create more and better jobs.' Wow, this guy is smart — was that graduate degree at age 5 in mastery of the obvious? There is nothing complicated about taking a laundry list of issues (taxes, education, health care) and speaking generally about the need to improve or reform these areas. Seems like a nice enough guy, though."

While acknowledging that the outsider, anti-incumbent approach can appeal to voters, we also asked Meisner if it's smart politics to insult the people you intend to govern with.

"Having an actual, specific plan for turning things around will require the support and participation of those same people Mr. Snyder is trashing," he said. "Bringing policymakers together is something his 'plan' fails to mention. That makes it seem like a good sound bite, but a very poor strategy for the actual work of reforming the system."

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or

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