Give three steps to Bobby Bright

I’ve had a front-row seat in the past few days to the dramatic downward spiral of Democrats. They are Willy Loman morphing into Virginia Woolf, and the dinner conversation and mind games are getting ugly. I was able to see all this on my own couch just watching WSFA-TV from Montgomery, Ala.

You see, for the past three decades, I have been living in Texas, where I was forced to pay Caesarian tributes to scalpers for good theater. The renowned Alley and Wortham Theaters in Houston cost big money for the best seats. I’m done with all that. I’ve moved my voter registration and TV set to Alabama, where I get all the theater anyone could ever hope for, and it’s all free of any charge. The political news and the ads that come on between TV shows are some of the most entertaining stuff one would ever hope to see, as a political junkie.

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The latest and greatest viewing opportunities are the ads being run by Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright as he scrambles to hang onto his congressional seat representing much of Montgomery and what is called the Wiregrass region. I say “scrambling” because that’s how it seems to this viewer, as Bright changes ads as often as showgirls change costumes. Is his TV consultant forced to make money off production, I wonder?

It all started with the traditional grist of Alabama political ads: pickup truck-driving, gun-toting, churchgoing, handshaking, fishing. Pretty much every ad has these elements, often all in the same ad. My favorite recent one is for Democrat Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, the offspring of the legendary Big Jim Folsom, where he not only totes a gun but fires it while informing viewers that the business of government is not for the “genteel” or “faint of heart,” not so subtly jabbing his dainty female opponent.

But back to Bright, because he is the harbinger of things to come, an oracle. Up until now, Bright has been edging away from being a Democrat. Now he’s in full-scale getaway mode. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Southern rock anthem “Gimme Three Steps” should be blaring as the soundtrack of his ads from now on. (For you Yankees, “Gimme Three Steps” is the request of a man who got caught dancing with another man’s girl, and asks in the chorus, “Won’t you give me three steps/ Gimme three steps, mister/ Gimme three steps towards the door?/ Gimme three steps/ Gimme three steps, mister/ And you’ll never see me no more.” Remember?)

Bright also was using the word “independent” relentlessly, superimposing it above glamour shots of his drivin’, handshaking and so forth. He’s the most independent one there is in all the land, he claims. But then the Republicans go and puncture his tires by reminding voters that he votes with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) more than 70 percent of the time. That evidently worried the most independent man in the land, so he puts up yet another ad that insinuates the 71 is a lying number. The relevant numbers that don’t “tell lies,” according to Mr. Bright, are four (he’s fourth-generation Wiregrass), 32 (number of wedding anniversaries), three (children), nine (years as mayor of Montgomery), 15,000 (new jobs), 60,000 (miles driven in his pickup truck) and 93 (cities visited). The only missing numbers were bullets fired and bream caught.

This guy’s mastery of figures tells me he’s pollster material if he’s not reelected. And then the ad ends with the most bizarre close I have ever seen. Side by side are pictures of Democrat Bobby Bright and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Underneath is the caption proclaiming that Mr. Independent (two frames earlier) “votes 80 percent with the Republican leader.” My, oh my, this guy can read a poll. Give him three steps.

David Hill has been a Republican pollster since 1984. This cycle he is polling for gubernatorial campaigns in four states.