Again Already with the China Bashing?

The 2012 election season will surely not be remembered in history for great debates on public policy. From what I remember, we were supposed to pick our favored candidate based on who hated women the least, who could be relied upon to bomb other countries most readily, and who could blame China the loudest for our economic woes. The China-bashing theme brought us not only Mitt Romney’s disingenuous promise to tax Americans in the name of Chinese currency reform, but also a bizarre slew (and slough) of offensive and ignorant campaign ads from Republican congressional candidates.

Now it appears that the Republican Governors’ Association has rediscovered the China-bashing tactic in 2013 with an ad targeting Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. In  the video (watch it here, if you must), McAuliffe is shown expressing excitement over a factory being built in China with which he has perhaps some proprietary relationship. The voiceover proclaims, “Instead of creating jobs in Virginia, McAuliffe is betting on China. Can you trust Terry McAuliffe?” That’s it. That’s the entire ad.

I’m not sure whether to be encouraged by the fact that the ad never takes issue with or advocates a particular policy. I suspect that Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, doesn’t actually support restricting the outflow of investment capital for the sake of domestic job creation—even though the video implies the wisdom of such a policy. Does Cuccinelli honestly believe that investing in China is a sign of insufficient moral turpitude? I doubt it. We are left pinning our hopes on the possibility that Republicans are merely betting that xenophobia will be a winning campaign strategy. It wouldn’t be the first bad idea they’ve had.

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