Ads for Md. Senate race get a hearty thumbs down

ON BLOGS

July 30, 2006|By TROY MCCULLOUGH | TROY MCCULLOUGH,SUN COLUMNIST

Eric Spiegelman feels your pain, Maryland.

Spiegelman has attracted a following on his blog Cinemocracy.com recently by highlighting and dissecting campaign ads from across the country. His assessments are often brutal, and to his readers' delight, he has shown little tolerance for poor production values, dubious campaign messages and loony sales pitches.

But when the Los Angeles-based blogger stumbled upon the crowded race to fill departing Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes' U.S. Senate seat, his outrage rose to a new level.

In a post from earlier this month titled "Three horrible videos from people who want to be a United States Senator from Maryland," Spiegelman could barely contain his disbelief over the bad political instincts that some local candidates have shown in their video spots.

Spiegelman's first target was Democratic candidate Allan Lichtman, who jumped into a lake for his commercial.

"Democrat Allan Lichtman tries to distinguish himself from the rest of the field by jumping into a lake, fully clothed in a suit," Spiegelman writes. "Why? Because he'll make a big splash in Washington, get it? In case you don't recognize the political genius at work here, Lichtman's website makes sure to inform you that the commercial is `humorous and edgy.' Edgy."

The blogger barely knew what to make of Democrat Dennis F. Rasmussen's ad, which might best be described as something akin to a Mr. Rogers skit gone horribly awry.

"Holy sweet Jesus, this man is running for a seat in the United States Senate, where Daniel Webster and Robert Kennedy served, and this is his official campaign video," he wrote.

"Where do I even begin? How about the third grade level MS Paint animation. Or perhaps how the animated singer's lips still move when there are no lyrics. Maybe the emphasis on the `US' in Rasmussen's last name. Or the fact that it begins, in all seriousness, by welcoming you to Razzmania."

But Spiegelman saves his most contemptuous critique for the ads of Republican long shot Daniel "The Wig Man" Vovak.

"If that Buffalo Bill character from Silence of the Lambs ran for office, his campaign videos would probably look like those of Republican Daniel Vovak," Spiegelman wrote.

"There are eleven slightly deranged and vaguely gothic advertisements on [Vovak's] website, the most nightmarish of which features a decapitated mannequin head in a powdered wig (representing Vovak, apparently) debating a goldfish in a bowl wearing a necktie (which represents GOP challenger, Michael Steele). Please don't hate me if you wake up in the middle of the night, screaming."

The sad truth about political commercials is that even the good ones are relatively bad. Most are roughly on the same level of a late-night infomercial or a tacky used car ad.

And with seemingly half the state desperately seeking the vacant Senate seat, candidates will do whatever it takes to get voters' attention. The rest of us have no choice but to weather the brewing campaign storm as candidates demand with increasing frequency our attention.

But it's nice to know that someone out there recognizes the assault that Maryland is coming under.

Welcome to our suffering, Mr. Spiegelman.

troy.mccullough@baltsun.com

Listen to Troy McCullough's podcasts at baltimoresun.com/onblogs.

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