The new Herman Cain ad featuring his campaign manager, Mark Block, is the worst ad of the 2012 cycle so far. It will be hard to beat, and will certainly make the highlight reel.

Sometimes, opposing campaigns mistakenly believe that ads featuring their opponent’s managers are effective. They are always wrong. I think this is the first time a campaign has thought that an ad featuring its own manager was actually a good idea.

Having been in a lot of strategy meetings over the years, I try to put myself in the room where bizarre things were decided. So how did the meeting at Cain headquarters that produced this ad go? My guess is something like this: Someone said, “Hey, we need a volunteer-and-contributor recruitment ad to take advantage of the enthusiasm that is growing out there.” Someone else said, “No problem. Let’s have the candidate make a direct appeal into the camera.” Then someone said, “Wait a minute, what about a third-party validator with a high Q rating and good credentials?” Then the next genius said, “I’ve got it. Let’s feature our middle-aged campaign manager growling into the camera and smoking a cigarette!” At that point, Mr. Block said, “Great idea. Make it happen.” 

In politics, bad gets worse. The Cain campaign has been facing questions about its professionalism, seriousness and overall organization. This ad crystallizes the fact that the organizational aspect of the campaign is off-the-rails. There is nothing more to say.