The national conservative organization Club for Growth attacks U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin's incumbent Democrat, in a curious ad called "18 Years Is Enough." The curious part is not the ad's message, which is right-wing boilerplate. Feingold "voted to use our tax money to bail out the car companies" and "voted for the job-killing cap and trade energy tax." Turns out he also "voted for the national debt." Who knew that had come up for a vote?
No, the curious part is the production. The ad works overtime to convey a sinister tone, becoming unintentionally hilarious in the process.
"18 Years Is Enough" begins with a creepy black-and-white picture of Feingold and dissonant music right out of a horror-movie trailer. The narrator is out of a horror-movie trailer, too, hissing, "What's happened to Russ Feingold?" His tone is so ominous that you expect the answer to be: "His soul has been sucked out by devils!"
The ad emphasizes Feingold's "18 years in Washington" with pages blowing off a calendar at demon speed, a spooky clock traversing the screen, and infernal ticking sounds. It emphasizes his supposedly big-spending ways with phantom paychecks disappearing one by one and dollars mysteriously vanishing off a stack.
At the end, that spooky clock returns, its hands spinning wildly. All of these images have a ghostly feel, suggesting that Feingold is a ghoul who won't rest until he drags Wisconsin straight to hell.
"18 Years Is Enough" makes you think we don't need a new U.S. Senator so much as an exorcist.
Isthmus TV critic Dean Robbins will assess candidate commercials throughout the 2010 fall elections in this regular feature. Read more reviews of political campaign spots.