Running any kind of political campaign is hard. You've got a bunch of temporary workers (and volunteers) who will all go back to their normal lives after Election Day. Everything's a rush, and there will be mistakes.
And then there are mistakes. Someone in President Donald Trump's reelection campaign decided to run a fundraising ad suggesting that voters could Support Our Troops by donating to his campaign war chest. They bought a stock photo and added the donate links. Then, boom, it was out the door and onto the internet.
No one who approved the ad noticed that the troops in the photo were getting buzzed by a Russian MiG-29, but the image quickly went viral once it appeared online.
Of course, a lot of the mocking comes from anti-Trumpers who didn't know the difference between a MiG and a PT boat last week, but there are plenty of jokes from the same military folks who love to point out the gear mistakes in Hollywood action movies.
The image also features Russian troops, according to the Russian photographer who created the image. Arthur Zakirov told Politico reporter Daniel Lippman that he thought the error was "pretty funny."
"Today, you hear about the Kremlin's hand in U.S. politics. Tomorrow, you are this hand," he added.
The Trump campaign bought the photo from stock photo service Shutterstock. In defense of the staffer (or intern) who chose the photo, the description on Shutterstock just says, "Military silhouettes of soldiers and airforce [sic] against the backdrop of sunset sky."
And yet, the MiG-29 is one of the most iconic fighter planes in military history -- the Soviet/Russian counterpart to the F-14. There are literally millions of Americans who can identify its silhouette, and there really should've been someone who caught the error before the ad went live.
And, since we're pointing out someone else's sloppy mistake, let's be precise about exactly who ran the ad. It was the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which is a joint venture between the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign.
Fans of irony might like to know that the Google transparency report on political advertising says that the ad ran Sept. 8-13 and had an ad spend of less than $100 with fewer than 10,000 impressions.
That number is so low that a crafty political operative might start to wonder: Did someone in the campaign know exactly what they were doing and post the ad to motivate Trump supporters who think the media spends all its time inventing new ways to harass the president?
And yet, it's hard to see this kind of unforced error as anything other than what soccer fans call an "own goal" or the gamers label a "self-own."
President Trump wants to make military support a cornerstone of his political coalition. This ad makes it look like he could use a few more veterans on staff.
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