The Washington Post

Herman Cain’s ad — so wrong it’s right

Herman Cain’s new ad is brilliant.

There are all sorts of conventional wisdom around political ads. Feature sweeping vistas and inspiring footage of grass roots growing and amber grain waving. Show us the occasional flag, and the faces of hopeful children.

Rick Perry’s ads are what would happen if this conventional wisdom were bitten by a radioactive Michael Bay. It’s all that and then some, in case you weren’t having a seizure when the ad began.

Herman Cain’s ad does no such things.

Conventional wisdom?

That’s not Herman Cain’s style. Conventional wisdom says, “No mustached man will win the presidency.”

Herman Cain’s ad features not one but two mustached men.

Conventional wisdom says, “Maybe use your campaign funds to make a really good ad — or, hey, to pay for a campaign organization. Any campaign organization at all.”

Herman Cain has, so far, used his campaign funds to purchase thousands of copies of his own book. He has no dis­cern­ible campaign apparatus. And he made this ad.

This ad takes everything they tell you not to do in political ads and distills it to its essence.

And then somebody smokes.

The only guy endorsing Herman Cain on camera is his campaign manager. He will, I doubt, be offended if I say that he is not endowed with movie-star good looks and has all the camera presence of wilted celery. I merely tell it like it is.

He is there to note that Cain will put the “United” back in the “United States” — a slogan he appears to have come up with on the spot — and that the Cain campaign is unlike anything else, ever.


Then we cut to Herman Cain, who stares at us and slowly, creepily smiles, as though someone is whispering a joke in his ear, or as though he has just decided what to be for Halloween, and the answer is “Satan.”

It’s horrifying. It’s magnificent. It’s the kind of ad you could only make if you were not taking this seriously.

It’s Cain.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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