American Idols: Who Sang It Better—Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

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A brutal new ad from the president's campaign draws comparisons with the famous "Daisy" ad, but the challenger fires back with a video of his own.

If you're one of the few people on the Internet who missed President Obama's new ad over the weekend, it's worth a viewing. The ad is pretty brutal -- it takes Mitt Romney's painfully tuneless rendition of "America the Beautiful" and uses it as a soundtrack to a series of damning headlines about Romney's offshore bank accounts and alleged outsourcing at Bain Capital. And then, for good measure, it closes with a clever play on a famous Ronald Reagan quotation: "Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem."

Shortly after the video was released, the Village Voice's John Surico had some free advice for the Republican: "The next step in Romney's ad campaign is simple: juxtapose all the failures of the Obama Presidency with his Al Green tune." Et voila:

The Romney spot is part of a new push to paint President Obama as a "crony capitalist," handing out favors to friends and donors. Molly Ball has more on why Romney's own style and refusal to disclose his bundlers make it tough for him to pull off. As advertising aesthetics alone, though, it's doesn't pack the same punch as the Obama spot; part of the challenge is that Obama sang only a few bars, and that he stayed on pitch.

Obama's ad has been widely compared to Lyndon Johnson's famous "daisy ad" from 1964. Although that spot is often remembered as one of the greatest attack ads of all time, exuberant Democrats and uneasy Republicans alike considering that comparison should keep in mind that there's not really any evidence at all that it had much effect on the presidential campaign.

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David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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