Ah, To Be Young Again

Two new ads for Fred Thompson and John McCain prove that while voters’ energy might be waning, theirs isn’t.

In Thompson’s spot , we see the candidate swaying back and forth and waving his arms, proving that he has more than enough energy to be president—maybe even too much. The film editor is clearly excited about split screens, but that’s OK, because more screens means more Fred.

In McCain’s ad , the candidate is bouncing around in fast motion, then slow motion, then fast again. Positive descriptors zoom across the screen, like the title sequence in Spider-Man . The upbeat music tells us that McCain is a man on the go. (Compare to his ghastly spot from last spring.) More than anything, though, the ad looks high-budget. What it should really say at the end is, I’m John McCain, and I could afford this message.

It’s obvious why both candidates are trying to look energetic. Thompson still hasn’t shed his rocking-chair rep, while McCain is trying to avoid more questions about dying in office . In McCain’s case, the adrenaline injection is slightly more believable. He’s riding a slew of newspaper endorsements to become once again competitive in New Hampshire; a strong showing there and he’s back on the national map. Thompson, on the other hand, is still sagging, and in more ways than one. He’s not a shoo-in anywhere—even in his best state, South Carolina, he’s polling third

Apparently that old saw about writing—”Everyone needs a good editor”—also applies to politics. But sometimes even that’s not enough.