There a lot that's fascinating about it
like the massive exposure for Russell Feingold. In fact, Pres. Bush only appears in the ad for about :09 seconds. Sen. Feingold, Vice Pres. Al Gore, Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Harry Reid have almost :20 seconds of airtime.
Bush is revealed and again concealed with a fade-in and fade-out, all bookended with scary horizontal blue steel strips, some text floating inevitably towards you from the center of the screen, a kind of nuclear exposition of elliptical light pulsating out from the center behind the text, with electronic blast sfx, loud ominous techno score.
The whole ad opens with quick vignettes of some masked terrorist-looking types (staged? documentary?) running with guns through a burned-out building. Fade up/fade out, heartbeat pulsating tech score. They run outside, an old car blows up behind them.
Is it real, or is it Memorex?
So they start drumming up the terror with that sequence, have "On September 11th" come in big and readable along with some war rhetoric that spills over into the next slide, then Bush in some unidentified Big Brother-ish setting, wearing what looks like a formal jacket, U.S. flags pattern on the wall behind him.
Bush looks either as phony or sincere as you've come to harden your position on him, but he's only on long enough to say he gave his vow to not wait to be attacked again (like by Iraq again?).
Now two animated power text slides setting up the pitch. The first: "The President is Working to Defeat the Terrorists", as if there is anyone who still believes W. is all that hard-working. Then a slide with too much text, some big, some smaller, claiming he's aggressively pursuing Al Qaeda members, which to you might ring true but just made me depressed that he let Bin Laden slip away in Tora Bora.
Now come the parade of what I assume are intended as red meat targets for the hardcore Bush base; Democrats with names like buzzwords. I was surprised not to see Nancy Pelosi. Not so surprised that Hillary wasn't included as I believe they want her to get the 2008 Dem nomination, they want to run against her and will do everything they can to make Democrats think she's the best contender. Or maybe this ad was just about taking down The Men.
The thing is, aside from the ominous pulsating techno bummer music and the way some of the shots are treated or cropped, they don't seem to me like unreasonable guys. Feingold in particular, with the lion's share of screen time, comes off very serious, very normal, very good.
I'm thinking, they're hoping the emotional argument and Parallax View-style associations rev their choir, and there's enough of a groundswell of anti-Democrat Bushism that the Swing populace starts to sing along.
After the "gallery of Dem traitors" comes "Censure? Impeachment?" and sub-head "Is This the Democrats' Plan?" now with thunder SFX. (I kid you not about any of this.) Then - fade-out/fade-in - "The President is Taking the Necessary Steps to Keep America Safe."
In from the right slides a blood-red band and the words: "Who Do You Stand With?" No music now, just heartbeat and ominous technobreeze, then little white letters on black telling you it was paid for by the Republican National Committee. If you can squint to read it, kind of a punchline.
Here's my brilliant observation: it's all fear. That's the world they create in order to sell you that Bush is the only one who understands the direness of the situation (with no indication that he's really going to alleviate it).
My instinct is that while this may feed maybe a 28% Bush-committed electoral segment, it's only going to scare away potential new converts.
One big problem the Democrats have right now is the lack of a national party leader. Different pols handle different slices -- Dean outfitting 50-states for once, Schumer on Senate recruiting, Joe Biden on C-SPAN, Hillary doing the videogame values pander.
You also have Feingold trying to leapfrog his Party's stagnation. What's so strange to me about this ad is that the GOP give Feingold more prominence than Harry Reid would ever allow.
I guess that they're making sure their base has now clearly identified this new threat/target, maybe to set up a whole Fall Swiftboat campaign against Feinstein. Smears by October? September? End of April?
To me Feingold looks like such a good composed citizen in the midst of this whole berserk apocalyptic branding experience, I can't imagine it doesn't make him look good to anyone but the most wingy Dem-hater or Jew-hater or goddamned Jew Democrat hater. Or maybe I underestimate the size of that demo.
Will they ever offer hope, and not just horror film last-ditch-hope like the feeling engendered by the tiny Bush speech clip? Are we going to get an ad sometime where the goth-ish techno gives way to renewal strings and a bright, sunny palette, Bush in a sea of children, shaking hands and smiling, that childhood innocence, that Texas twinkle, the terrorists all banished from McHappyland by the Wise Emperor?
I think it all depends how well the GOP think they're doing in the polls. This could be one big loyalty test to make standing with the President win, or else walk away from the guy as much as possible.
To me the latching onto Feingold is a mistaken reading of now defunct polls, unless they're thinking they can just hammer and he'll fall fast victim to his chinks like every other Dem who has folded up their armor for the GOP before him. Feingold's stock only went up even after the Party Dems hid like scared turtles on his announcement. Aside from Republicans and Dem bigwigs, most folks seem to dig Feingold for his candor and cajones.
The theme of the next election has got to be hope, realistic hope because we're knowing the costs now. At least I think whichever party can establish that big claim, they win.
The alternative is a fear campaign. And will anyone be surprised if BushCo uses an attack on Iran to raise the fear meter enough?
The Dems shouldn't really run on fear, no matter how much every new day of Bush/Cheneyism strikes real terror in their hearts. They need to start building a credible message of how they're going to make things right, so they have some real positions that everyone can get behind.
So what's the verdict? Am I right on this ad? Or is it more effective than I imagine?