Submitted by John W. Pell on November 15, 2011 - 1:46pm
The Karl Rove backed organization American Crossroads recently released an attack ad directed toward the Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
The ad is typical of the attack genre. It contains a number of non-sequiters in the form of both image and text intended to demonstrate how Warren serves as the intellectual inspiration behind the "violent" and "unsanitary" Occupy Wall Street Movement.
The attempt to make OWS appear as a violent, fringe group is not that surprising and is the typical response by political organizations to groups that raise a fuss. However, I did find the ways in which the video marked Warren as "Professor" and criticized her "theories" fascinating. The image of the radical, leftist, intellectual are common accusations leveled by conservative groups toward their liberal counterparts, but what is interesting in this instance is the response of the Warren campaign to such accusations.
In her first campaign video, Warren opens by stating that before "you hear a bunch of ridiculous attack ad....I want to tell you who I am."
Who Warren is, at least for the sake of this video, is a pastiche of "middle America" values: working class roots, married young, mother, daughter, sister to brothers in the military, and finally a non-traditional student working her way through college.
What Warren is not, however, is a an intellectual or a law professor. For those of us who teach rhetoric, case studies like these provide the ground upon which to build discussions concerning the common topoi associated with the intellectual life and how these ideas are often placed in contrast to "American values."