Let’s accentuate the positive first with Senator Russ Feingold’s new ad, “Forward.” The ad focuses on the meaning of our state’s slogan, which is that very word, and urges continued movement in that direction. While many would like to see the state’s politics slide backwards, Feingold is pushing for movement in the proper direction. Feingold makes no attempt to place himself among the forward-thinking individuals that are shown in the ad, such as former Gov. Gaylord Nelson or the world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, both Wisconsin natives. Rather, it appeals to the desire to improve and elevate the whole of society. It’s a thoughtful ad, and doesn’t specifically mention any issues, nor people. It doesn’t need to, as it represents some of the best thinking and values to come from Wisconsin in the past hundred years.
Terrence “Terry” Wall, the multi-millionaire who for over a decade hasn’t found it necessary to personally pay a dime to support the state, has some ads too. The ad “Liberal Leinie” was posted two weeks ago, and predictably bashes Wall’s probable Republican opponent Dick Leinenkugel for being part of the Doyle administration and helping write the state budget, and for Wisconsin losing jobs. While the Cheddarsphere had already questioned Leinenkugel running as a Republican immediately after serving in the Democratic administration, Wall’s ad paints him as a dreaded tax-raising liberal. The economy going out of control was hardly Leinenkugel’s fault, but the people in charge always take heat when things go poorly. Leinenkugel set himself up for taking those hits, light as they may be.
This video says much more about Wall than his nasal pronouncements about jobs in his introductory video. Compare the tone of the Feingold and Wall ads. Feingold refers to our state’s legacy of producing great thinkers and creators. It emphasizes the importance of keeping up our great intellectual and creative traditions. Voting to return our scholarly senator to the Senate would do that.
Wall’s ad is smug, dismissive, and insulting. The tone of the woman’s voice is designed to raise the hairs on the neck of people who have been trained by talk radio and Fox News to automatically hate anyone and everyone who is associated with the Democratic Party. It doesn’t employ dog whistles so much as bullhorns to shout the words “HIGHER TAXES” and “LIBERAL” — a gaudy attempt to embroil the conservative audience. If the ad is successful in raising the blood pressure of the viewer, they probably will give the throwaway line at the end of the ad a gut laugh. Which is more than it deserves.
Thoughtful, effective. Feingold.
Snobby, pandering. Wall.