Dear fans of outrageous political ads: Get ready for something really bonkers. In the “attack” ad above, released today by Ted Cruz, viewers find themselves in the Hillary Clinton war room. It’s a dark, sinister place, fit for a supervillain. The casting, you can tell immediately, is superb: There’s the Hillary stand-in, of course, but this one goes so much deeper, with look-alikes for top Clinton staffers Huma Abedin and John Podesta too. (For all I know, everyone in the commercial might be a proxy for someone close to Clinton.)
The background details are wonderful too—on the transparent walls behind the main cast, there are intricate scrawlings, where you can make out “superdelegate counts” and the latest numbers from a series of polls. The cast is by turns smug and cowed—one of the cocky advisors goes pale in the face when he accidentally says “Mrs. Clinton” instead of “Madame Secretary,” drawing looks of scorn from everyone else at the table.
Next, the ad segues brilliantly into its anti-Trump portion, with the Clintonistas joyously pointing out the various flaws that will prevent him from ever taking the White House. Even here, there are subtle pot-shots at Clinton, as when the Podesta character says “our friends at the IRS.” All the while, Abedin paces menacingly around the table, intimidating and sarcastic.
But the real star of the show is Clinton. She doesn’t say a single word the entire time, but the masterful facial expressions—mostly slow glares, eyes accentuated by a halo of the blackest shadow available—speak volumes. This is the darkest, maddest, most conservative vision of Clinton, and the ad pulls no punches in depicting her as a embodiment of pure evil.
Seriously, look at this picture:
In fact, there are so many hilarious moments in this ad, but the funniest is an inadvertent one—the point at which the dramatic build-up leads to the stunning reveal that the unstoppable savior of America is none other than TED CRUZ BABY! When that manila folder popped open, white light glowing from the inside, revealing the unpleasant leering visage Canada’s own dark horse, I burst out laughing and haven’t stopped since.
Then again, maybe that moment wasn’t inadvertent at all. The whole thing is like a long parody of a political ad—like we’ve reached the point where we can no longer run serious attack ads, and have to just have fun with the genre. Maybe the directors and writers were like, “screw it, if the rest of the thing is going to be a winking, overblown mess, the hell if we’re going to get serious at the end.”
Ted Cruz is a monster, of course, and he’s getting his butt kicked up and down the country by Trump, but in a primary season that has basically made a joke out of the American democratic process, we have to tip our caps to him here for literally making that joke—and counting on the fact that there are enough Americans, out there in the shadows, who will take it seriously.