Cool helicopters. Law enforcement on horseback. No nonsense tough talk about the importance of border security set to sick synthesized pop beats. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's new video has it all. It's exactly like Sen. John McCain's old immigration ad only with more techno and lens flares.
And that's a problem if Republicans can't deliver. If Ryan, R-Wis., doesn't get the wall built or something like it, fairly or unfairly, Tea-Party conservatives will hold him responsible like they blamed McCain after 2010.
Running for re-election back then, McCain released a now infamous and dramatic spot of him walking along the border next to sheriff with a pistol on his hip. Long an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform, the Arizona Republican was suddenly all about the wall.
"Drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder?" the Maverick asks.
"We're outmanned," responds Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Ariz.
"You bring troops, state, county and local law enforcement together," the Babeu continues, detailing the senator's plan to fix the problem at the time.
"And," interrupts the Maverick, "complete the danged fence."
It was the sort of border security talk that plays well with the conservative base, a less extreme version of the message which later swept President Trump into office. Had McCain rolled out that rhetoric in 2008, who knows, perhaps his presidential fortunes would've been different.
Instead, in a 2007 Vanity Fair interview, McCain half-heartedly endorsed the idea of a wall. "I think the fence is least effective," he complained. "But I'll build the god damned fence if they want it." Except McCain never got elected president and he never really supported the idea.
As recently as April, McCain posited that a wall could make a "left-wing" candidate president of Mexico, adding that the possibility "can't be good for America."
Now McCain is anathema to the conservatives he tried courting during his presidential bids. Not that he cares, but the border security advertisement is now infamous. Other Republicans, particularly Ryan, should take note.
But the speaker has reason to be confident. Last week the House voted for something like $1.6 billion in startup wall funding. Still, as the Washington Post's Amber Phillips points out, there are some caveats.
First, that's a fraction of a drop in the bucket: the estimated cost of the border wall is something like $25 billion. Second, it was smuggled into a larger spending bill to give cover to moderate Republicans living in border states. And third, Democrats will fight tooth and nail to kill it in the Senate.
The jury's still out on Ryan's border wall music video. If the speaker can build the wall, or something that looks like it, he can re-release that track and take credit for doing something no other Republican speaker has been able to accomplish. But if construction never starts, whether it's Ryan's fault or not, Tea Party conservatives will put that video on repeat and cry hypocrisy like they did with McCain.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.