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It's 3 a.m. and We're Tired of These Ads

In the beginning, there was this ad by Hillary Rodham Clinton: It's 3 a.m., and Barack Obama is naïve and inexperienced (does he even know how the White House phones work??). Then there was Obama's response : It's 3 a.m., and Clinton shouldn't answer the phone because she backed the Iraq war. Now Clinton is at it again: It's 3 a.m., there's a housing crisis and John McCain would sleep right through the call. McCain hit back: It's 3 a.m., and Obama and Clinton want to raise your taxes, possibly via a late night phone call.

Comes now the National Republican Congressional Committee, which unveiled a Web video today on the terrorist surveillance issue: It's 3 a.m., and we're all going to be in danger if the Democrats don't answer the phone soon:

The NRCC gets credit for using cool, Portishead-like music in its spot, which opens on a shot of a moonlit Washington Monument.

"Halfway around the world U.S. intelligence officers are attempting to monitor a phone conversation between two suspected terrorists," says the text across the screen. "But they can't because the Democrat Majority refuses to answer the call to protect the American people. It's 3 a.m. and the phone keeps ringing."

After the phone is answered by an irritating recording, apparently telling the intelligence community that the office is closed, or something like that, the screen reads: "How long must we wait until we get an answer?"

Republicans have been hitting Democrats for failing to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act since the last version of the measure was allowed to expire back in February. With the housing and Iraq dominating the news cycles, the GOP has been looking for every opportunity to remind the public and the media that this issue deserves attention.

Thus the new 3 a.m. spot, though the NRCC is a little too cash-poor right now to do anything other than post this ad on the Web. There have been plenty of parodies of the other 3 a.m. spots. What enterprising YouTuber will be the first to spoof the NRCC's ad? Capitol Briefing is brimming with other questions: Will this trend ever come to an end? Why has no one incorporated the Matchbox 20 song "3 a.m." yet? Does the phone ever ring at 4 a.m.? If you know any of the answers, sound off in the comments section below.

By Ben Pershing  |  April 4, 2008; 3:31 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Player of the Week: Christopher Dodd
Next: Week Ahead: Iraq Hearings and Housing Bill


The 3am battles are better than Super Bowl commercials.

As a producer I am tempted to do one of my own. Thanks to You Tubers, I don't have to.
BUT DAMN! IT's tempting!

What gets me is the lack of imagination on the part of these ads. The 3am call has been worn out.

I too would like to see a lunch time call. Or better yet, how about a call during morning service? That way we can throw in a bit of the religious right or left. I mean really, lets get everybody involved.

It's a good thing we are not voting based on these ads....OH WAIT>>> I may have misspoken.

Posted by: Vance McDaniel | April 4, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Caller: Hi, I'd like to order a pizza to go with no anchovies.

Candidate: No anchovies? I spell my name Danger!

Posted by: thebob.bob | April 4, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Gonzales visit Ashcroft's hospital room at 3am?

Posted by: Brasky | April 4, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

If I were NRC I would be quiet because seems like somebody forgot to tell us about the phone call from the save house in Afghanistan to the USA discussing 9/11 attack or was it just the dream of General Attorney (that phone call I mean).

Posted by: JR | April 4, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

i'm surprised Clinton/Obama have not done one in the middle day in a classroom at 3pm and not 3am.

Posted by: my pet goat | April 5, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

3 a.m. push 1. For Spanish 2. English 3. International crisis. 4. Domestic crisis. 5. If your a Democrat. 6. If your a Republican. 7. This call may be recorded for security purposes. 8. Repeat all the above. Thank you.

Posted by: houstonian | April 5, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

I think it's pretty obvious the NRCC is out of money when they have to resort to arthouse web ads to get their message across. They can't even afford actors or decent production values. Pity the poor Repubs.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | April 5, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

How ironic! As you were writing this article, did it ever occur to you that you're part of the problem?? You're tired of hearing about the 3a.m. ads. So, you write a story, bringing it to our attention not to tune them out anymore but to watch these ads closely enough so that we will pay attention to the number of times we watch them. Then, we are to report back to you how much we hate them to because now we have to pay attention to them all of the time. Well, not all of them, just the Republicans. I guess they paid you to advertise their ad, seeing how you have dedicated 3/4 of your article to advertise a detailed account about theirs

Posted by: Annette | April 5, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Uh, and how about that little disclosure that the Bush administration knew there was a call from an Al Queda safehouse to America, and claimed to not be able to do anything about it...

was this because they didn't know what they were doing, or because they just didn't care?

Now, they use it as the basis for wanting to extend their assault on American freedom. Duh, it was 3am, the terrorist phone call was made, and the Republicans stood by and watched--thereby letting it happen. And, how about when the other 3am phone call about a little hurricane named Katrina came in? What did the Republicans do then? I think Karl Rove started a whisper campaign blaming black people for it or something.

It's time for the Republicans to move on to greener pastures.

Posted by: wetnoodle | April 5, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It's lunchtime: Do you know where your country went?

3am answer: Down the tubes sold out to China, and under observation by the thought police.

Posted by: John C. Page III | April 5, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

It 3 am and the NYSE been close since 4 PM anybody think the phone going to ring for that! And if it can wait from 4PM to 3AM it can wait until six. Let her sleep she see snipers everywhere when she sleep deprived!

Posted by: johnupnorth | April 5, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

"It's 3am and a telephone is ringing in the
President Barack Hussein Obama White House.
So First Lady Michelle Obama answers it and
wakes up President Obama,who tells her to
run and get "Uncle" Jerimiah (Wright) who
is sleeping in the Licoln Bedroom and have
him come tell us what to do. So Uncle Jerimian comes with Michelle Obama and picks up the phone and says,"Burn Baby Burn!" and Barack Obama says,"There is change you can believe in!"

Posted by: Sandy5274 | April 6, 2008 1:54 AM | Report abuse

"It's 3am in the morning and the White House Red Hot Line Telephone is ringing,so
the New President Barack Hussein Obama picks it up and is told our US Troops are
evacuating the US Embassy in Iraq by heliocopters and are being killed by Iraqi
Insurgents by the thousands..So President
Obama tells his goofy wife Michelle Obama
and Uncle Jeriamiah,"Burn Baby Burn! Uncle
Osama bin Laden is winning in Iraq."

Posted by: SherryKay2004 | April 6, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Don't these jokers understand "overkill"? I think I will go to sleep util the November election.

Posted by: Anita Mason | April 6, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Let's release the White House records during the last Clinton' administration to see what Hillary was doing around 3AM.

Let's release her tax returns for 2007 and the list of big donors to the Clinton' library to see to who Hillary owes favors and with who she will talking at 3AM in a new Clinton's administration.

Posted by: Logan | April 6, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

From "Head of State"

"Sunday, April 06, 2008
Why Clinton Embellishes

We have three examples from recent days of Clinton's modifications of the truth.

Why do they matter? One might say that many politicians are prone to factual distortions.

What is of particular importance is not only that Clinton distorts the truth, but when she does--and why.

Clinton, as many who know her well and have studied her life closely have indicated, from Dee Dee Myers to Carl Bernstein, has a fundamental difficulty in revealing herself. She is seen by even those who are closest to her as perpetually standing behind a guise, ever prepared for the attack, a characteristic regarded as at times poignant, and at other times Nixonian in its manifestations.

We know from biographies of Clinton, including Bernstein's astute and perceptive "A Woman in Charge" that Clinton's suffered from a harsh and judgmental father, and that this relationship had a deep and significant shaping influence.

On the one hand, it prepared her (indeed, over-prepared her) for quick response, for an all-too-ready response to attack. Yet it also created, beneath the increasingly agile guises and forms of protection, a more fundamental experience of self--that despite the greatest efforts, the most agile displays, of never being quite good enough to measure up to his judgment. This left her, as it leaves many in such circumstances, with a rueful admiration of and attachment to a seeming strength and sureness that she could never have; and underneath the formidably developed masks of intellect and defensive pretense, a fundamental fear of, in her true self, uncovered, falling short. Many have noted this quality in Clinton, and have drawn it back to this familial source.

As a consequence, beneath the feigned hardness, the feigned casualness, and beneath the years of powerfully developed yet defensively driven skills, there is a tragic, deep and, for a President, highly consequential flaw--one that is most likely to be relevant in those "3 a.m. moments" that she has so readily and repeatedly invoked.

One cannot respond with balance and wisdom from a guise. One's own judgment is critically affected by what one feels they must display (and truly cannot), and by what they believe that they must hide.

From such a position, the "other"--be it a colleague, opponent, or one's view of the "public" at large, is critically distorted. The other is not regarded as a fellow equal, with whom we are shouldering difficult tasks together, in order to determine a better future, but a threatening judge, to be managed and feared; whose response must be calculated to be met with the proper guise--one which must be quickly changed--or covered--if there is a danger that, beneath the mask, one will be found out.

What Clinton shares with other talented, tragic figures is a mistrust of humanity's judgment, and, as a result, an inability to meet them with the full, uncovered gaze of a developed and accepted self. The truth, within such an uncertain experience of self and the judgment of others, is often felt to be not enough.

This is what Obama, in this revolutionary moment, to a greater extent, has. This is what people are connecting with. And, in 3 a.m. moments, this is what we need.

Head of State

Posted by: Robert Hewson | April 6, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

A new president is in the oval office, and it is 3 o clock in the morning, and the new head of the justice department calls the president and says: "The international community asks for justice, they want a large proces". Defendents are all american officials. When I do it their way I would have to organise a proces 10 times as big as the Neurenberg proces that took place after WorldWar II. I need your advice what officials should be on the list if it are not half the american officials of the past 20 years or so." Then the president answers and says: " At least you have to put all those the lied in the runup for the Iraq war on the list, perhaps about a 1000 american officials or maybe more, for a start. Then you probably have to ad another 5000 officials that lied over the 9/11 2001 disaster.And when you are done with that you will have to ask yourself, who of the man and women in congress and senate do I have to send a sapoena. And last but not least, you have to put the whole whitehouse staf on the list as well. That will be enough for the moment."

Posted by: jwh | April 7, 2008 1:44 AM | Report abuse

It's 3 AM and the reason that phone keeps ringing is a completely failed foreign policy, a completely failed economic policy.

Barack Obama is the only candidate that hasn't managed to upset a foreign country in this campaign so far.

Hillary's list:

McCain's List

Posted by: poeticthevail | April 7, 2008 2:08 AM | Report abuse

As Hillary says, she takes time to do her hairdo done, I don't think she can prepare herself quickly enough at 3AM...

Posted by: Kaoru | April 7, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Sandy and Sherry....thanks for the laugh...the best 3AM's so far.

Posted by: silverlucie | April 7, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

This ad is probably the most STUPID one anyone has come up with .
If SHE thinks trash like this can get her selected , she is really in trouble

Posted by: la-mute | April 7, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It's 3 AM and America needs someone to listen to what they need and not to what the talking heads say is important.

Take of the people and everything will work out for the best.

Posted by: reece conrad | April 7, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

If its truly the "hot line", why does that phone ring eight times without being answered?

And don't you want a calm collected person answering?

Not a self-described fighter, or a candidate who's favorite memories are of drunken fights

How about a cool self-disciplined intelligent self-made man: Barack Obama.

Posted by: mama for obama | April 7, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

It's 3am and we nightowls welcome a President who is also still awake when we are.

Posted by: NIteowl | April 8, 2008 1:22 AM | Report abuse

It's 3am and (thump thump, shriek) the call is coming from INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE! Bush, Cheney, get out NOW while there's still time to save the country from your disastrous policies.

Posted by: Lois | April 8, 2008 1:24 AM | Report abuse

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