So many recent Wisconsin political ads have failed at being clever that it's a shock to find one that actually works.
Russ Feingold, the Democratic U.S. Senator campaigning for reelection, opens "Earned It" sitting at a big table with military folks. "Russ Feingold's work to provide our soldiers with the support and health care they deserve has earned him the approval of Wisconsin veterans," a narrator says.
Next we see Feingold at a big table crowded with regular Wisconsin citizens. "Russ' fight to keep local jobs from being shipped overseas and create jobs here has earned him the respect of Wisconsin families and small businesses," the narrator continues.
The last segment begins with a close-up of Feingold eating at a restaurant. The narrator says: "And his stand against wasteful spending and automatic pay raises for members of Congress has earned him…"
The camera pulls back to show Feingold at a big table, this time by himself. The narrator delivers the punchline:
"…a lot of lonely lunches in Washington."
The joke is expertly set up, and the understated tone makes the message even stronger. It conveys the sense that Feingold doesn't have to be shrill about his 18-year Senate record; he just has to gently remind voters of his accomplishments.
As a piece of TV, I'll take this over the coarse attack ads we've been seeing since summer -- some of them by Feingold himself.
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.