It seems early in the election cycle for scary political ads, but the reckless rich love the smell of money in the morning — or any other time — and nobody's richer and more reckless than the members of the "Club for Growth," a special-interest PAC now filling Arkansas airwaves with spooky messages about a black president and a member of Congress alleged to have been civil to him. The ad is all silhouettes and shadows and sinister off-screen voices, reminiscent of the ads that racists ran against Winthrop Rockefeller in the '70s, documenting his attendance at NAACP meetings, and his failure to apologize for it.

To be fair, the Club for Growth, chaired by sometime Arkie Jackson T. Stephens, probably doesn't disapprove of Barack Obama because he's black — or not only because he's black — although the sleazy-looking TV ads could easily lead one to believe that. The Growthers find him distasteful also because he didn't get off his butt and inherit big pots of money, like they did. Where's his initiative? Most of all, they resent his willingness to tax rich people to help poor people. To the Growthers, this is un-American as well as un-white. Un-Christian, too. The funny name doesn't sit well with them.

The TV ads are intended to defeat Sen. Mark Pryor, who's up for re-election next year and who is, according to the advertisers, Obama's only Arkansas ally. Pryor is also the only Democrat in the Arkansas congressional delegation, and that's one too many Democrats for the Growthers. But there's scarcely a blander, less partisan, more centrist politician around than Mark Pryor. To turn him into an ogre will take a lot of the Growthers' misbegotten money. Even people like Jackson Stephens, who've never had to worry about price, may reach a flinching point.


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