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Future Shock

I'm a bit late to this McCain ad, which draws on the "2013" speech he gave last week, but I have to say I find it fascinatingly bizarre. Like the speech, it has certain inherent problems: by looking backward from the future, it takes credit for accomplishments that haven't actually been accomplished; by picking the year 2013, it essentially places those accomplishments in a second McCain term; etc.

But worse, I think, is the ad's execution. It's not hard to imagine this essential message being expressed in a friendly, informal tone, perhaps with some brief intro that sets up the context (e.g., "When you look back, five years from now, what will you hope the president has accomplished?") or at least makes clear that this is a political ad. Instead, we have a narrator who is impersonal verging on robotic, listing, without explanation, the grand goals that have been achieved--"Middle East: Stabilized; Nuclear Terror Threat: Reduced;" etc.--as (supposedly) futuristic computer graphics glide across the screen.

With the exception of throwing a few obviously fantastic items into the mix ("Alien Invasion: Repelled; Intergalactic Portal: Closed"), it's hard to think of a way this ad could more closely resemble a science fiction setup. Which strikes me as a problem, given that I don't think the purpose here is to convince us that a succesful McCain presidency is as likely as, say, an android uprising.

Update: The ad seems to be off YouTube, but you can still see it here

--Christopher Orr