An update on Michigan ads since this morning’s post. The negative ads have begun. First, Rick Santorum’s. This is a rather ominous update of an old standard in campaigns: the mud-slinging ad where Santorum tries to make Mitt Romney’s attacks the issue and deliver a little one of his own. We used to make these ads in the studio with a concoction of water, dirt, baking soda and dye and throw it at a poster of the candidate under assault. The modern version has a Romney look-alike firing mudballs from an assault rifle at a Santorum cut-out. (Note to the former senator: assault rifles — even fake ones — probably don’t belong in your ads.) The ad is okay. Attack the attacker before he attacks you and try to turn his negative energy against him. Very martial arts. But Santorum undercuts his ad by making a rushed attack of his own on Romneycare. Why do consultants persist in thinking voters are stupid? If you are making an issue of negative ads, why interrupt your own commercial to deliver one yourself?

Romney’s PAC started what promises to be the first of many attacks on Santorum. Guess what? Santorum’s really a Washington insider with a lot of votes to increase spending, his own pay and the national debt. Romney’s advisors who telegraph all their moves — and continue to infantilize their candidate by so doing — believe that voters will be shocked by these revelations. Maybe they will, but I think Romney needs to roll out something new on Santorum. If ever there was a time to use a nugget of negative from their exhaustive Santorum files, Michigan would be it. No use saving it now.