Patterico's Pontifications


The Big “Subliminal Racial Message in Hillary’s Commercial” Post

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 12:27 pm

I thought the Big Controversy over George Bush’s 2000 “RATS” commercial was nonsense. But a lot of liberals took it Ever So Seriously, and news organizations ran stories implausibly claiming that every single frame of every single campaign commercial is METICULOUSLY PLANNED OUT TO THE NTH DEGREE!!!!

Now we have a Hillary commercial where a kid is wearing pajamas that seem to have the letters “NIG” on them. It’s at :12 here:

As with the Bush commercial controversy, I think the claim is nonsense. Never mind whether you think the letters really say “NIC” — it looks to me like it’s a “G” and the mind fills in what’s missing. I wouldn’t put anything past Hillary, but I think it’s absurd to claim it’s planned out.

But no more absurd than the claim about the Bush commercial. So as a media critic, I think it will be interesting to see how the media handles this.

If it were Obama’s commercial, with a subliminal disparaging remark about Hillary, it would be ignored. But since it’s Hillary’s commercial, and the media are in Obama’s pocket, I’m not so sure.

Here is the Bush 2000 “RATS” commercial, so you remember. Pay attention around :25, when the word “bureaucrats” comes onto the screen, filling the screen with the word “RATS” for a second:

UPDATE: A commenter says these are “GOOD NIGHT” pajamas. Makes sense.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. Don’t miss the Jewish references in the ad. You can read about them here.


  1. “Smoke…”


    “Are you smokin’ yet?”

    Comment by Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec) — 3/1/2008 @ 12:38 pm

  2. There is no question that the letters NIG appear on the upper right shoulder of the subject in the frame. In fact, they are the only recognizable characters in the frame. The capital ‘G’ appears opposite the lowercase ‘i’ at the a 45 degree angle and inverted, relative to the ‘i’. Have you logged onto any sites recently? The system provides for jumbled and warped characters for the user to type in to thwart character recognition software. The brain is especially good at this function. The only question is whether it is deliberate. It is disingenuous to claim that they “seem to appear”.

    Comment by hioptemp (b738b2) — 3/1/2008 @ 1:38 pm

  3. It looks on the Hillary one that it might say “Nice Doggy.” It looks like “Nic” to me. There’s no way that’s deliberate.

    OTOH, I am convinced that the “Rats” one *was* deliberate, and there long enough to matter.

    Of course, my only complaint about the “Rats” commercial is that after comparing government bureaucracy to rodents, GW generated a lot more rodentia. I wish he’d stuck to his campaign views on big government.

    I don’t believe that subliminal advertising works at all; rather more pointed symbology aimed at your constituents – Huckabee’s Christmas cross, for instance – or a little play on words like the “Rats” thing which will enter the conscious mind can do some things, though.

    The thing on Hillary’s just ridiculous, I agree. I hope the media doesn’t do anything with it, because it’s ridiculous. Of course, we’ll see… Patterico may well be right.


    Comment by JRM (355c21) — 3/1/2008 @ 2:35 pm

  4. Try a different question – imagine the media reaction if McCain ran this same ad with the same near “NIG”.

    That one is easy – libs would be leaping from tall buildings.

    Comment by Tom Maguire (408cff) — 3/1/2008 @ 2:46 pm

  5. Indeed. But since when is the existence of such a double standard news in any way?

    Comment by Patterico (4bda0b) — 3/1/2008 @ 2:52 pm

  6. The PJ’s are “Good Night” Pajamas. That’s where the ‘nig’ comes from. People who see racism everywhere are those who doth protest too much. Hillary is a crass, corrupt politician, but sorry, there’s nothing to see here.

    Comment by NJRob (d671ab) — 3/1/2008 @ 2:53 pm

  7. Is the campaign responsible for sending out a subliminal message to stimulate racist thoughts in the unsuspecting viewer? It is either deliberate or terribly incompetent.

    Or, is Althouse a nutter? Let’s not overlook highly plausible possibilities.

    The notion that anyone is going to watch that ad, see those pajamas and come away thinking “OMG! Hillary’s opponent is a nigger!” is well beyond stupid. Sometimes a set of pajamas that say “Good Night” are just pajamas that say “Good Night.”

    Comment by Pablo (99243e) — 3/1/2008 @ 3:18 pm

  8. The notion that anyone is going to watch that ad, see those pajamas and come away thinking “OMG! Hillary’s opponent is a nigger!” is well beyond stupid.

    I thought the commercial meant, “Hillary’s opponent is near.”

    Comment by Howard Johnson (f9dba2) — 3/1/2008 @ 6:40 pm

  9. The funny/stupid thing about Bush’s 2000 ad was that the “RATS” pan-in/close-up was first discussed by Britt Hume on Fox, at the end of one of his Special Report shows at the end of August. The end segment is always some minor/light piece of fluff, and that’s the way Hume treated the clip from the commercial. But a week-and-a-half later, the New York Times runs the story, but this time, it’s portrayed as some grand subliminal conspiracy by the Bush campaign against Al Gore.

    The same thing applies here, though in this case, at least the folks on the left aren’t borrowing a two-week-old Fox News fluff piece and turning it into a major scandal. They’re doing the work themselves and turning a 24-hour-old commercial (and act of desperation) by Hillary Clinton into a grand subliminal conspiracy by the Clinton campaign against Barak Obama, because in this primary race, Hillary is seen as the conservative by many of the same people who freaked out over the 2000 Bush ad (though strategerie-wise the fact that the ad might just be effective on some undecided primary voters may be a reason to bring this nutty complaint up, if for no other reason than to try and change the subject away from Obama’s lack of experience).

    Comment by John (34537e) — 3/1/2008 @ 7:22 pm

  10. The notion that anyone is going to watch that ad, see those pajamas and come away thinking “OMG! Hillary’s opponent is a nigger!” is well beyond stupid.

    It seems as though that is exactly what Althouse has done.

    Comment by DoDoGuRu (a3c81d) — 3/1/2008 @ 8:20 pm

  11. Howard Johnson:


    I said “Hillary’s opponent is a

    Comment by Gabby Johnson (75e970) — 3/1/2008 @ 8:59 pm

  12. Something’s happening in the world. It’s 03:00 O’clock in the morning: OMG, another bimbo eruption? No, Bill’s downstairs, I can hear the TV. Mrs. President, it’s the pizza delivery boy … what should I do? You know, for some reason I’m dressed in full business attire; oh well, nothing’s too good for the American people. Quick, put him on speaker; click, where the hell are you?

    Remember how fortunate we were, because the Cold War was over when the Clintons were in the White House? We were lucky. Hillary Clinton’s Texas ad isn’t fear mongering, it’s ludicrous. Being married to a draft dodger doesn’t exactly qualify one as a military expert either. Who do you want answering the phone:

    Comment by Peggy McGilligan (f77c16) — 3/1/2008 @ 9:02 pm

  13. I think Gabby Johnson is right about Howard Johson’s being right…

    Comment by Amos Johnson (99ba7a) — 3/1/2008 @ 9:11 pm

  14. it were Obama’s commercial, with a subliminal disparaging remark about Hillary, it would be ignored. But since it’s Hillary’s commercial, and the media are in Obama’s pocket, I’m not so sure.

    Don’t be so sure about that. I was watching the news this morning and Obama’s being called on the carpet for mentioning Popeye’s chicken. He can’t mention eating chicken without being accused of some kind of reference to racism?

    Between Ann Althouse’s accusation and this, we’re a bunch of people with way too much time on our hands, aren’t we?

    “… a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Comment by Psyberian (d18acc) — 3/2/2008 @ 8:06 am

  15. Isn’t Althouse in WI? There is a tavern in the Dells called Nig’s, and they have a huge sign that says “have a swig with Nig”.

    Comment by JD (f44699) — 3/2/2008 @ 9:19 am

  16. Poor Poor Hillary, I thought she was a black jew. is’nt that what she claimed to get elected to the Senate the first time? Or was that a Hispanamerinadian? She is, and publicly always has been a self entitled wench.

    Comment by jim rich (481b76) — 3/3/2008 @ 12:26 pm

  17. What I think is interesting, and I doubt that it is coincidental–the blue and white blanket covering the last little boy in the commercial looks like a Hebrew prayer cloth. A subliminal appeal to Jewish voters?

    Comment by Janie (d671ab) — 3/4/2008 @ 6:45 am

  18. Drew Westen and Ann Althouse are dunces and plagiarizers of my original research and literary property on deconstructing “subliminal racism” in the media. Because of assholes like these two and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Harvard, you all are being mislead as to the use and merit/demerit of “subliminal” messages such as the RAT and NIG ads. Please go to my website for info:

    Comment by Arthur (b60c8d) — 3/6/2008 @ 1:14 am

  19. Find the stock feed if its not there well enough said !

    Comment by Bob Carter (9e3867) — 3/9/2008 @ 10:20 pm

  20. Someone find the stock feed and lets find out if this has legs !

    Comment by Bob Carter (9e3867) — 3/9/2008 @ 10:22 pm

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