Worst Ad of the 2012 Campaign?


I know that's a big claim. And we've still got ten months of ad watching ahead! But this will certainly be a contender. It's allegedly from a Ron Paul supporter in New Hampshire.

Is this really from a Paulite? Or is it a dirty-trick reverse backflip meant to discredit Paul and perhaps build sympathy for Huntsman? Might it be from an unaffiliated, disgruntled- loner-style xenophobe? Or by someone making fun of disgruntled-loner xenophobes?

No explanation really makes sense -- after all, the common enemy of Huntsman and Paul in New Hampshire would seem to be Mitt Romney, or now Rick Santorum, rather than each other. But during this campaign it has been harder and harder to apply a "well surely that couldn't happen" common-sense standard to whether the latest weird allegation could be true. I thought the original "smoking man" ad for Herman Cain might have been an Onion parody. I still think the whole Trump campaign may have been.

Wherever it comes from, this ad has a breathtaking cheesiness and badness that deserve notice. The ten seconds starting at time 0:40 seem to be making an allegation even wilder than what's in the rest of the video. Thanks to longtime Atlantic staffer Chris Good, now of ABC, for the lead. And this is also an occasion to think back on the most memorable spot of the 2010 midterm campaign, the immortal Chinese Professor ad.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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