With tens of millions of dollars in their war chests, both sides of the fierce debate over the Iran nuclear deal haven’t settled for making their cases in print – they have been flooding the airwaves and the Internet with slick videos aimed at convincing the public to pick up their phones and write or email their representatives on Capitol Hill, urging them to either support or reject the agreement. Most of those being broadcast on television are targeted to states where key senators and congressmen are on the fence as to how they will vote.
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The sales pitches range from dry and logical to fear-inducing to downright wacky.
"I’m Staff Sergeant Robert Bartlett, and I was blown up by an Iranian bomb." Could there be a better spokesperson to make the case against the deal than a soldier visibly scarred by the regime he is denouncing in Iraq in 2005. Bartlett informs the public somberly that "every politician who votes for this will have blood on their hands." The group behind it, Veterans against the Deal, has not disclosed who its donors are.
The ads in heaviest play in key states where senators or congressman haven’t made up their minds are being run by a well-funded group called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which, The New York Times has reported, is essentially AIPAC. Their ads are short and to the point, full of facts and figures, ending with the tag line: "Congress should reject a bad deal. We need a better deal."
But some opponents of the deal seem to feel that appeals to the intellect are not enough – they are going for the gut. This ad by former UN Ambassador John Bolton’s Foundation for American Security and Freedom features a happy, all American family sitting down to dinner, and then BOOM.
Unlike AIPAC, the organization J-Street hasn’t been hiding its identity behind less sectarian-sounding sponsors of their video ads. In "Good for Israel, Good for America," it gives the agreement a hard sell, saying it provides "the toughest inspection program in history" and claiming "Israeli security experts say it’s the best option."
The "Let Diplomacy Work" ad by the progressive powerhouse Moveon.org chastises Republican senators for "sabotaging" and "undermining" President Obama’s agreement and "pushing us into another costly war, risking American lives."
Striking a similar theme which equates rejecting the agreement with war, the group Americans United for Change warns: "They’re back – the Iraq war hawks are fighting the Iran deal, want more war," featuring photos of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and John Bolton. "Facts didn’t matter to the war hawks then – and they don’t matter now. They were wrong about Iraq, now they are wrong about Iran. They fooled us once, don’t let them fool us again."
Finally – one might think that a comic approach would be inappropriate for such a serious topic, but the folks in Hollywood affiliated with the group Globalzero.org would disagree. That’s the group behind the widely-circulated ad starring actors like Jack Black, Morgan Freeman and Natasha Lyonne. Black smirks that he “loves playing Frisbee with his sons,” but that if the agreement is rejected he won’t be able to do it any more "'Cause we’d be dead. Super dead." and "the Frisbee would be melted." The ad concludes that the "agreement on the table is the best way to ensure Iran doesn't build a f*#@ing bomb. Call Congress and tell them to support the Iran deal."
This video was so off-the-wall that it inspired an annotated version from a conservative group called Red Nation Rising – packed with retorts and snarky comebacks.