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McCain Ad: Tanks, Missiles, Masked Gunmen. Oh My! « The Washington Independent

Remember that “3 AM” ad from the Clinton campaign? Remember the controversy that ensued — that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was fear-mongering? Well, not to be outdone, Sen. John McCain’s newest TV spot of the same name picks up where Clinton left off, and as Emeril would say, “kicks it up a notch.” Take a look:

PRODUCTION NOTES: Clinton’s ad was subtle and just told you that something awful was happening somewhere in the world — the images were of sleeping children and concerned parents. Not very threatening. On the other hand, McCain’s ad is a bit more explicit. It begins with a clip from the Clinton spot, of a mother checking on her sleeping kids. Then it quickly shifts gears. As an announcer ominously says, “Uncertainty. Dangerous aggression,” images of lumbering tanks appear. “Rogue nations,” the announcer continues, as an enormous missile launches. “Radicalism.” An army of Kalashnikov-toting, masked jihadists marches through the streets.

Holy cow. We’re all gonna die. Why imply something when you can bludgeon us with it?

The ad then cuts to a far less sinister clip of Clinton saying, “I know Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House, and Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.”

This new spot tries both to play up and aggravate divisions in the Democratic Party and appeal to the emotions of a broader range of Americans worried about U.S. security. While the McCain campaign is continuing its strategy of turning the words of Sen. Barack Obama’s primary rivals — namely Clinton and Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden — against the presumed Democratic nominee, there is more going on in the subtext of this ad than on the surface. McCain is playing the fear card in a big way with the use of a series of terrifying images. The message: it’s a big, scary world out there, and everyone’s out to get us. We need a “real man” to protect us from all the threats we face — not a “fussy, hysterical” celebrity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hide under my bed until Sen. McCain tells me it’s OK to come out — presumably sometime after Nov. 4.

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