A few days ago, Jim Geraghty complained that my critique of McCain's sex-ed ad relied more on how the ad "feels" than on what the ad actually said. Today, Byron York marshals an extended defense of the ad's accuracy. And Rich Lowry writes that McCain's ads "are no worse than Obama's spots ...Obama just ran an ad saying McCain would cut education funding -- with no evidence. His response to McCain's supposed out-of-control negativity is a new negative ad misleadingly creating the impression that McCain aides are currently lobbying for special interests."

Here's the thing, though: The reason that the sex-ed ad touched such a nerve, and helped create the current "McCain is a lying liar" narrative in the press, is that it's a culture war ad. It isn't about funding or lobbying or any of the other issues where truth-bending ads get cut all the time without the media freaking out; it's about values, and children, and sex. Obviously, I think such topics are completely fair game for attack ads, but a large slice of the commentariat doesn't, and a conservative campaign that runs a culture-war ad has to expect that it will come in for a higher level of scrutiny than your typical attack ad - and a higher level of blowback if it shades the truth at all. In its relationship to the facts, the sex-ed ad wasn't all that different from, say, Obama's semi-mendacious education ad - but given its subject matter, it needed to meet a higher standard.

This ad, meanwhile, seems to meet those standards, while taking up an even hotter-button subject. It'll be interesting to see if and how the press reacts:


We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.