If Rick Perry’s first web ad reminds one of Transformers or Armageddon, his latest spot is more reminiscent of  Howard’s End or perhaps Jane Austen in Manhattan.  That’s not so much a reflection of its artistic content as it is of the fact that it’s, well, dull.  Perry tries hitting Mitt Romney on book edits, and it falls oddly flat at least in part from a lack of skillful staging:

After the last debate, I marveled at how anyone could blow an attack on Romney as a flip-flopper that had obviously been rehearsed.  The same can be said about this ad.  Surely, with a couple of days to work on the attack, the ad could have been limited to a 30-second grabber and presented a little more entertainingly than this.  It has all the charm of a corporate flip chart, and even less in wit.

This doesn’t make much sense strategically, either.  Perry should be putting his effort into introducing himself and his Texas record to voters across the country, focusing more on defining himself than attempting to redefine Romney.  That’s especially true after two bad debate performances in the last two weeks.  Perry needs to remind Republicans why he generated so much excitement with his announcement.  Going negative on Romney without presenting his own case has a whiff of desperation to it that Perry can ill afford at this stage of his campaign, and as Politico reports, it’s not the only indication of panic, either:

First, Perry drew a round of scathing reviews for his unfocused debate performance in Orlando Thursday night. Then he suffered a thumping defeat in the Florida GOP’s straw poll – to long-shot candidate Herman Cain, no less – that amounted to a vote of no confidence from dissatisfied activists.

The back to back stumbles added up to the worst week of Perry’s still-young White House bid, and left party strategists wondering what he can do to bounce back.

“Perry’s showing in the straw poll was disastrous. He was here, he worked the crowd, and it just proves that the debate performance really undermined his support,” said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who was at the straw poll in Orlando this weekend. “Perry’s gotta retool, reorganize and retrench very quickly.”

Said one prominent conservative activist: “They’ve really got to go into damage control mode and right this ship, and they’ve got a relatively brief amount of time to do it. And if they don’t, I think he’s done.”

They’re not going to do that with video ads about book editing.  Team Perry has to start making a positive case for Rick Perry in order to reverse the fumbles of the last two weeks.