Watch: 'Colored Lights' and 'Decorative Brick' — Did Biden Attack Ad Imply Gay Stereotypes?

Tuesday February 11, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released an attack ad on rival Pete Buttigieg Saturday that says the openly gay former South Bend, Indiana mayor is to light in experience to be president of the United States.

But did it also imply he is too light in the loafers?

In the ad called "Pete's Record," Buttigieg's achievements as mayor are sarcastically compared to prestigious ones of former Vice President Biden. Yet where this one appears to cross the line isn't in its criticism, rather its tone, which paints Buttigieg as a public servant whose chief goal was to turn his "queer eye" on South Bend by putting colored lights under bridges and installing decorative brick in the downtown area.

"When President Obama called on him, Joe Biden helped lead the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which gave health care to 20 million people," a voiceover in the ad says. "And when park-goers called on Pete Buttigieg, he installed decorative lights under bridges giving citizens of South Bend colorfully illuminated rivers."

A screenshot from Joe Biden's ad against Pete Buttigieg

"Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor Pete have helped shape our economy," the ad continues. "Joe Biden helped save the auto industry, which revitalized the economy of the Midwest, and led the passage and implementation of The Recovery Act, saving our economy from a depression. Pete Buttigieg revitalized the sidewalks of downtown South Bend by laying out decorative brick."

Oh, yeah, he's also fired both the chief of police and the chief of the fire department, who are both African-American. Draw your own conclusion as to why this was included:

"And both Biden and Buttigieg have made hard decisions. Despite pressure from the NRA, Joe Biden passed the assault weapons ban through Congress, then he passed the Violence Against Women Act," the ad goes on to say. "And when public pressure mounted against him, former Mayor Pete fired the first African American Police Chief of South Bend, and then he forced out the African American fire chief, too."

A screenshot from Joe Biden's ad against Pete Buttigieg

Blogger John Althouse Cohen summarized the ad this way on his blog post Jaltcoh:

"Biden's ad says Buttigieg 'installed decorative lights under bridges' to create 'colorfully illuminated rivers,' and he 'la[id] out decorative brick' on sidewalks.

"So Biden is repeatedly trying to associate the word 'decorative' with Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate with a serious chance at becoming president.

"The repetition of that word — 'decorative' — could not have been an accident.

"One of the oldest stereotypes about gay men is that they're interested in interior decorating.

"Yes, I know: someone's going to say I'm reading too much into it, oversensitive, etc. I know that response.

"I also know that political attack ads are designed to operate on a subtle and sometimes subliminal level."

A screenshot from Joe Biden's ad against Pete Buttigieg

Other publications took note of the ad's tone as well:

"The ad compared and contrasted both candidate's records while they were elected officials, and was criticized as being a 'homophobic dog whistle," writes the Daily Wire

Others echoed similar opinions on Twitter, including National Review Washington Correspondent John McCormack who implied that if a Republican ran the ad, there would be more outrage.

Many responded to McCormack's tweet:

Watch the ad below:

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