I still think it was the best she could do under the circumstances, but my sense via Twitter is that most righty pundits are with Rush on this one. As you’ll see below, both he and S.E. Cupp can’t quite get past the ad’s opening line; same goes for Ladd Ehlinger, the man who directed the now legendary Dale Peterson spot, who was tearing his hair out over it last night. The argument from naysayers is that bringing witchcraft into it renders the whole thing absurd, but let me answer that with this excellent point from Mary Katharine Ham via e-mail:
[T]he smart thing about the ad is the way it uses the silly witch thing as a symbol for attacks on her, thereby obscuring the many [other] issues she really does have. The whole ad’s a giant straw witch, so to speak, and Democrats were so giddy about attacking her on the witch thing that they gave it to her by never dealing with the more serious stuff.
Right. In fact, Cupp touches on the same idea in the second clip below but then quickly, and inexplicably, blows past it. O’Donnell would like nothing more than to lump the various attacks on her educational history, campaign finances, etc, under the heading “witchcraft” because no one takes the witchcraft stuff seriously. It won’t change a single vote. Ironically (and unintentionally), Bill Maher might be doing her a favor by rolling out those old soundbites of hers because they operate as trivial media distractions from the more substantive criticisms of her. What she’s trying to do in the ad is to wipe the entire slate clean by focusing the viewer’s attention on the most innocuous charge of all and laughing it off. (As Fred Davis said to NRO about the ad, “She’ll get to policy fast — had to stem the other tide first.”) It’s risky, but like I said last night, she’s got a pile of lemons here and she has no choice but to try to make lemonade. How is it better to act like the lemons aren’t there when Delaware voters have been hearing about them for a solid month?
Here’s what Coons’s campaign is doing with the ad, incidentally. Exit question: Isn’t it time for a new poll of this race to see if there’s been any movement? It’s been more than a week since the last one. Click the image to watch.