Saturday, May 15, 2004

GOP compares Kerry to cicadas

E-mail: Democrat 'morphs' like insect

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

First, they said John Kerry looked French.

Then, they attacked him for his flip-flops.

Now, the Republican National Committee has launched an attack ad comparing the Democratic presidential candidate to the Brood X 17-year periodical cicada.

"Every 17 years, cicadas emerge, morph out of their shell, and change their appearance," the narrator says in an Internet-only campaign video e-mailed Friday to 700,000 Bush supporters across the country.

As time-lapse photography captures a cicada breaking out of its shell and developing adult wings, the ad continues:

"Like a cicada, Senator Kerry would like to shed his Senate career and morph into a fiscal conservative, a centrist Democrat opposed to taxes, strong on defense. But, he leaves his record behind."

The ad, posted at, features graphics with cicada mating sounds and, at the end, cicada morphing into Kerry.

The Kerry campaign said it's not "bugging out" over the ad, saying it seemed more like an inside-the-beltway joke. Brood X cicadas are emerging in the Baltimore-Washington area, though in lesser numbers than in Cincinnati.

"Maybe, if given another 17 years, President Bush could create a job in Ohio," said Kerry's Ohio communication director, Jennifer Palmieri.

With the 17-year cicada cycle and four-year election cycle converging only once every 68 years, politics and cicadas don't often collide. Indeed, the new ad may be only the second time in recorded history that cicadas have played a supporting role in national politics, said cicada scholar Gene Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph.

The first was in 1902, when cicadas nearly drowned out President Theodore Roosevelt's Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. In that speech, Roosevelt defended his policy to impose "orderly freedom" on the Philippines, and deflected criticism over the recent military scandals there.

"Is it only in the Philippines that Americans sometimes commit deeds that cause all other Americans to regret? No! From time to time there occur in our country, to the deep and lasting shame of our people, lynchings carried on under circumstances of inhuman cruelty and barbarity - cruelty infinitely worse than any that has ever been committed by our troops in the Philippines."

As author Edmond Morris recounted in his 2001 book Theodore Rex, "Invisible choirs of 17-year cicadas buzzed in counterpoint to his speech."


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