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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Daisy Girl Redux

A group supporting Obama’s arms treaty revives an attack ad from the Cold War era. Will it resonate?


“Five…seven…six…”: a new take on the old anti-nuke ad

Image: American Values Network, via New York Times

A group called American Values Network plans to run an updated version of the famous Cold War attack ad known as “Daisy Girl.” Lyndon Johnson’s presidential campaign aired it on TV only once, Sept. 7, 1964, but that was enough to implant the idea that a vote for Barry Goldwater meant the annihilation of little girls.

American Values Network produced the new ad in support of the new START arms treaty with Russia that the Obama administration hopes to ratify before the end of the year. According to the New York Times, Daisy Girl 2 will run in states where Senate votes “will be key to passage.” Does that mean in states whose Senators are still waffling?

The 2010 “Daisy Girl,” like her 1964 counterpart, is plucking flower petals before the echoey countdown and the mushroom cloud billows, reflected in her eye. A gerbera daisy supplants the old fashioned shasta daisy of the original, and today’s girl stands before the Washington Monument rather than in a field. Though much of the script is the same, the feel is completely different: the 1964 Daisy Girl, wind blowing through her hair, seems innocent, but Daisy Girl 2 is brusque, wooden, savvy. “Cut! Let’s have another flower and take it from the top….”

Will the new ad spark memories? We imagine that most of today’s cable TV viewers won’t catch the reference at all. Instead, they may reasonably think, “Huh? I thought we were getting along okay with Russia. And why can’t that kid count any better?”

Joseph Cirincione writes in Foreign Affairs that important as the New START treaty is, Obama could now take significant steps against the threat of nuclear weapons: disclose the number of nuclear bombs in the U.S. stockpile, dismantle excess bombs, cut the number of deployed strategic weapons, reduce the U.S. arsenal to 1000 weapons (which Cirincione says is “three times more than U.S. Air Force experts judge are necessary”), and remove the 200 nuclear bombs that remain in Europe. 

These are measures the Obama administration can take now that, Crincione writes, “don’t depend on Russia or the Senate”—or a Daisy Girl.

Posted by Julie on 11/20 at 06:23 PM
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