David Kurtz at TPM:
Best TV Campaign Ad EVAH!
Jonathan Chait at TNR:
It’s funny, but in truth it’s nowhere close. The best ad ever was in an election for property value assessor in Floyd County, Kentucky. I wrote about it in TNR in 2002. I couldn’t find the video on the web. (If anybody can, please email it to me.) You’ll have to rely on my description, which can’t do justice to the video but does provide a sense of how dada it is:
If you’re one of the civic delinquents who hasn’t followed this race, here’s what happened: The incumbent, Connie Hancock, aired an attack ad maintaining that her opponent has been “arrested or charged fifty-six times for violating the law,” including DUI, criminal trespassing, felony assault, and terroristic threatening. “In a drunken brawl,” the ad further charges, he “bit a man’s ear completely off.” As if this charge needs more dramatization, it is followed by a high-pitched scream–the sound, we presume, of a man whose ear has just been bitten completely off.
How do you respond to a volley like this? Hancock’s adversary, David May, begins his rejoinder by downplaying the charges. “Sure, when I was young”–May is now 27–“I did a few things I’d like to think I’d handle different. My opponent said I was arrested for DUI. That’s completely untrue,” he tells the camera. When you’ve been accused of committing 56 criminal acts, including cannibalism, it might seem like a fairly damning admission to deny only one (relatively innocuous) charge. But a cardinal rule of politics holds that you should never stay on the defensive. So May immediately segues into a brutal counter-offensive. “Why would Connie Hancock falsely attack me?” he asks. “She suspected this tape”–and here May holds up a videotape–“would surface. It’s X-rated and shows just how little she values her reputation and wedding vows.” At this point the ad cuts to a bedroom scene featuring a smiling, half- naked woman, strongly resembling Hancock, sitting on a bed as a man who may or may not be her husband approaches. Abruptly the video ends, and we are left with an image of May smiling and waving.
The Daily Caller:
Political ads normally aren’t particularly captivating television, let alone appealing viral videos. But in the YouTube era, a handful of candidates have managed to captivate the public’s imagination with their outlandish (and sometimes borderline slanderous) claims about the bizarre sex practices of their rivals, the [expletive deleted] state of local politics, and, most recently in New Orleans, with a certain coroner’s propensity for selling body parts.
A.C. Thompson at ProPublica:
Here at ProPublica, we’ve had several encounters with Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard, whose office investigates suspicious deaths for the city of New Orleans.
Most recently, I went around and around with the coroner about the autopsy of a man named Matthew McDonald . Police shot McDonald to death in 2005  shortly after Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana. I needed the report for a story I was working on  with journalists at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS “Frontline.”
First, one of Minyard’s deputies told me the document existed but I couldn’t have it, because it was part of a homicide case. Then the story changed: Minyard and his attorney told my colleagues at the paper that the coroner had lost the autopsy report. That seemed a bit odd.
Sheri Fink, who reported on the events at Memorial Medical Center  during Katrina, has also documented some of the more interesting decisions  made by the doctor.
The spot portraying Minyard as a Frankensteinian crazy was paid for by Dwight McKenna, M.D., a convicted tax evader who’s running against Minyard. It’s airing on local TV.
The video highlights a mini-scandal from the 1990s, when Minyard was sued for allegedly removing bone pieces and corneas from the deceased and passing them onto transplant centers without permission. “It’s contemptible,” McKenna said in an interview.
Of course, some people are going to find the ad contemptible, but McKenna defends it. “The ad is, we believe, factual,” he said. “It’s fair play. It’s done in a humorous way.”
McKenna didn’t want to talk about his 1992 conviction on federal tax charges for underreporting his income by $367,000. He served nine months in prison.
Chris Good at The Atlantic:
Web ads like this one are generally created solely for the purpose of getting attention–i.e. free publicity–from bloggers. There’s no ad buy associated with them, and they only work as advertisements when bloggers embed them. Thus, we try not to grant coverage to web ads. But this one is so weird that I’m going to concede it worked. You got us, Carly for California. Good job.
It’s also a strategically significant: Fiorina entered the gubernatorial race as a “mainstream” candidate with GOP-establishment bona fides, having worked on the McCain campaign in 2008, facing conservatives in the primary. And she’s not the only Republican candidate to find herself in that situation in 2010, as the conservative movement has surged since the 2010 races really began. Her strategy: attack primary opponent Tom Campbell’s fiscal-conservative credentials, dubbing him an FCINO (fiscal conservative in name only). We’ll see if other candidates do the same.
Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time:
The best way to view California Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina’s awesomely bizarre new primary campaign ad–which includes shots of an alien robot sheep, or something–is by pressing play on your cassette tape of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon just as you click play on YouTube.
I think it’s destined to be remembered as a classic. It combines what sounds like the soundtrack to “The Exorcist,” a narrator who sounds like he’s imitating Morgan Freeman with the stratospheric dudgeon of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comments,” and then the grand finale: evil, menacing, vaguely cybernetic sheep with glowing red eyes. Two minutes and thirty seconds into the video, you will be screaming, “What the hell is that?!?” and reaching for any available firearms.
Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:
This thing’s going viral, but not necessarily in a way that will help Carly Fiorina’s message. It just oozes that special brand of ludicrous hilarity that the Internet loves, and the Internet will give the demon sheep many, many lives. And, you will now be able to say, “I knew the demon sheep when.”
If I thought the creation of the demon sheep was an intentional Internet hit, I’d be impressed, but I’m not sure it was. Nor am I sure that the true inanity required to produce viral hits will ever be the kind of thing that serves political campaigns well, but here’s to the Fiorina campaign for creating something we’ll all remember.
Jason Linkins at The Huffington Post:
HOLY CRAP, AMERICA. Mere days after a teensy little Orleans Parish Coroner’s election offered the opening salvo in the Attack Ad Wars of Campaign 2010, we have this ad from Carly Fiorina, running for the Senate in California that is a straight-up game-changing, shock-and-awe slice of pure, mountain-grown BONKERS.
In this THREE-AND-A-HALF MINUTE LONG video, the Fiorina campaign goes after former California Congressman Tom Campbell, who leads the Republican field in the primary race to unseat incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. The Fiorina campaign’s main point is that Campbell is a “Fiscal Conservative In Name Only.” It’s a fairly standard issue claim — or at least it would be, if the video that presented the argument didn’t play like Terry Gilliam and Ingmar Bergman collaborated on a campaign-year sequel to “The Wicker Man”.
The epic ad begins with a voice-over narrator intoning, “Purity…piety…” against the backdrop of galloping sheep. Then, Monty Python animation kicks in, elevating one sheep on a giant column into the ionosphere. Then: THUNDER! LIGHTNING! Darkening skies! A new voice-over narrator — the cheapest Morgan Freeman imitator money could buy — starts impugning Campbell, amid jump cuts of Campbell and sheep and pigs and graphs and quotes, while Satan’s opera company chants dark recitatives in the background.
“And sadly, we’re just getting started…” Cheap Morgan Freeman says. And sadly, THEY ARE! JUST! GETTING STARTED! More accusations and quotes and scary question marks, until it achieves its apotheosis: DEMON-EYED SHEEP!
By the way: this whole metaphor of Campbell pretending to be a heroic cutter of budgets and limiter of government DOES NOT REALLY WORK when you refer to him as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Surely, the brave fiscal conservatives are the more vulpine breed! Ideally, the Fiorina campaign would want to contend that Campbell is a SHEEP in WOLVES’ clothing. Right? Take off his disguise and he’s just another member of the herd? I guess it’s hard to work in the DEMON-EYED SHEEP image, in that case.
Also, when the ad gets around to mentioning that Fiorina is the better choice, maybe its makers should have killed the Satan Opera for a more optimistic piece of music?
Fiorina campaign: you should totally call me for ideas!
OH MY GOD “Carlyfornia” Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has struck again on the Internet and the results are monstrous. It’s best at the beginning and end, especially the end, picking up steam at exactly 2:26. “2:26″ is the absolute most terrifying second of video on YouTube since the most recently uploaded clip of Roger Ailes.
UPDATE: Michael Scherer in Time
Bill Scher at Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads
UPDATE #2: David Frum at FrumForum