Maddow Piously Labels Jesse Helms' 'Hands' Ad as 'Almost Evil'

In the endearing but largely forgotten film "Heaven Can Wait", Los Angeles Rams quarterback Joe Pendleton is killed in an accident and sent to the afterlife, prematurely as it turns out due to a snafu by the celestial powers that be. They can't return him to his previous life, since Pendleton has been cremated, so he is sent back to the body of a wealthy industrialist who's been murdered by his wife and her lover.

Pendleton, now living as corporate titan Leo Farnsworth, is anxious to return to the Rams. He realizes that his best shot at getting back on the team is to buy it outright. After he manages to do so, the embittered owner of the Rams is shown with one of his friends. (Video after the jump)

"My team," the owner vents, seething with rage. "That son of a bitch got my team."

"What kind of pressure did he use, Milt?" his friend asks, gently putting his hand on the owner's shoulder.

"Well, I asked for $67 million and he said OK," the owner answers. (The team was worth far less).

Pause. "Ruthless bastard," his friend replies.

As far as Rachel Maddow is concerned, the late Jesse Helms was also a ruthless bastard -- and for a sin of roughly the same magnitude as that committed again the owner of the Rams in "Heaven Can Wait." Helms' allegedly unforgivable transgression was to run a campaign commercial ... that accurately depicts how affirmative action works. For this he must be vilified in perpetuity.

On her MSNBC show May 30, Maddow went into a long spiel about awful campaign ads, with Helms' commercial against Democrat Harvey Gantt in their 1990 Senate race high on Maddow's list. Here's how she described it --

MADDOW: This is one way, famously, that political ads can be really, truly terrible. This is an iconic classic of a terrible, almost evil ad (raises finger for emphasis).

VOICEOVER NARRATION AS AD IS SHOWN: You needed that job and you were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota. Is that really fair? Harvey Gantt says it is. Your vote on this issue next Tuesday -- for racial quotas, Harvey Gantt; against racial quotas, Jesse Helms.

MADDOW: The "white hands" ad, that was an ad that conservative Republican senator Jesse Helms ran in his 1990 Senate re-election bid against Harvey Gantt. And that is very famously one way that political ads can be terrible. That is the classic racist variety of offensive political ad.

And it is racist .... how? Maddow doesn't say, presumably because she can't. Merely repeating that something is "famously" bad -- in other words, that all liberals can agree on this -- doesn't make for much of an argument.

As for the ad itself, it is as straightforward as political messaging gets. Those infamous pale hands are shown holding a rejection letter for a job for which the applicant in the commercial, its narrative tells us, was most qualified for the position. Based on the plaid red shirt the person is wearing, we can assume he's male. His face is not shown, the better for those watching the ad to put themselves in his place.

The ad states that Helms opposed racial quotas, Gantt supported them, and both statements are accurate. Why the focus on racial quotas instead of affirmative action as a singular issue separating Helm and Gantt? Because without quotas, affirmative action is nothing more than a well-intentioned guideline. It is quotas that give the policy teeth -- and also result in rejection letters to people passed over for no other reason than skin hue. Surely many of those letters are crumbled in anger.

Apparently what was "almost evil" of Helms was that he did the very thing that liberals claim they want so fervently, the incessantly touted "conversation on race." But when a conservative does exactly that, he or she is condemned as racist. Because liberals don't actually want a conversation with conservatives on race or anything else -- they only want to keep talking until you eventually come around to their oh so enlightened perspective.

In a feeble attempt to appear fair, Maddow later in the same segment ran a liberal group's jaw-dropper of an ad showing a Paul Ryan-lookalike heaving a panic-stricken, wheelchair-bound grandmother off a cliff. Put another way, the commercial shows Ryan murdering an old lady. This from the same people who support legalized infanticide in the form of abortion on demand.

The Ryan-Medicare commercial is a "terrible, terrible ad," Maddow opined. But what she sees as terrible skirts awfully close to evil, and what Maddow deems evil bears an uncanny resemblance to the truth.

Liberals & Democrats Rachel Maddow Show Harvey Gantt Jesse Helms