The American Future Fund, a well-funded Republican independent expenditure group, is up with a $4 million ad campaign in nine states that is designed to undermine President Obama’s populist message.

How? By attacking him as a stooge of Wall Street, pointing out that he supported the financial industry bailout and has staffed his inner circle with Wall Streeters — a seemingly atypical argument from a GOP group:

Jonathan Chait points out the chutzpah on display here, noting that Mitt Romney’s Super PAC and campaign are heavily funded by Wall Street, that Wall Street types are furious with Obama for all his mean and nasty rhetoric towards them, that Obama passed Wall Street reform, which is hated by the industry, and that Romney has pledged to repeal it, in keeping with Wall Street’s wishes. As Chait notes, given all these facts, it’s amusing that the new Republican message is: “Obama is soft on financial crime.”

Yes, it’s ridiculous. But it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time this happened. As you may recall, the Rove-founded Crossroads GPS initially ran ads attacking Elizabeth Warren as too cozy with Occupy Wall Street and insinuating she supported protest violence before abruptly shifting gears and running a spot accusing her of being too cozy with the big banks, based on the fact that she ... oversaw bailout spending. This, even though Warren was perhaps the nation’s most prominent critic of TARP.

And here you can see one of the key reasons these outside groups exist: They can spend huge sums of money on ads that are truly amazing in their up-is-downism — ones that are designed to do nothing more than blur lines, muddy waters, and sow confusion — even as their chief beneficiaries avoid any accountability for their absurdity. After all, not even the Romney campaign would be audacious enough to run an ad like the above. Would it?

Of course, there’s an upside to this. The massive amount being spent on ads designed to foment mass public ignorance over who is really fighting for whom is a pretty clear sign of who is really winning the argument here.


UPDATE: The ad also claims Timothy Geithner has a Goldman Sachs background, even though he never worked there.