I literally laughed out loud at the new McCain ad, but not in the good way. Watch it below. The hilarious part is the end, where, after 25 seconds of vicious sarcasm, the tone suddenly shifts, with soft piano music and an image of McCain smiling sensitively off into the distance:

I hate to pound the Simpsons references into the ground, but it reminds me of the episode where sinister, elederly right-wing tycoon Montgomery Burns writes an autobiography entitled "Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?," with an image of himself smiling in pretty much the same way McCain does at the end of the ad. (I may be influenced by McCain's nuclear power fetish.)

I think the ad does play into a lot of fears voters have about Obama. On the other hand, I really wonder if it's going to work. McCain's campaign has always had a seat-of-the-pants, frat house style about it. That works okay when they're the rebels with a positive message. But when it's married to an unrelentingly nasty style, it comes off more like a right-wing college newspaper. It's just mean and juvenile. Especially when McCain's whole message is about patriotism and bringing America together for a larger purpose, I just wonder if it can work.

Indeed, I have previously predicted that McCain will try at least one more shake-up before the election if he doesn't take the lead. (He's actually not doing too badly right now.) I could definitely see him bringing in Mike Murphy, who's been complaining in the press about the campaign's negative tone, and promising a positive campaign for the final stretch. The added benefit here is that it would allow him to disavow all the attacks his campaign has made while still benefitting from whatever damage they inflicted on Obama. This is all hypothetical speculation, but file it away for down the road...

--Jonathan Chait