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10/ 9/06

12:00 PM

Spot Check 

Reynolds Captivated by ‘Real World’ Marathon

"Looking back, more should've been done, and for that I am sorry." So ends Tom Reynolds's first post-Foley ad, which began running in his Buffalo district over the weekend. Though it's no "Morning in America," it is the latest in a new genre of campaign spot: Real World confessional.

In 59 seconds, Reynolds goes from resolute to wronged to confused to contrite, playing with facts and blaming his Housemates, all to mealy unsympathetic effect. Don Sherwood, a Pennsylvania congressman embroiled in his own sex scandal, released one exactly like Reynolds's last week.

The genre has roots in Nixon's "Checkers" speech. But there's no lovable dog or devoted wife in the frame to humanize Reynolds, just some liberally applied tanning spray and the truth-extracting eye of the camera. If Bill Clinton had given this a throw during Monica, he would have had a 400 percent approval rating. A nasally backbencher from Buffalo, not so much.