If I didn't know better -- and I'm not sure that I do -- I'd say that the McCain campaign sandbagged Barack Obama, when they attacked him for canceling a visit with wounded troops in Germany, a decision which he made at the urging of the Bush defense department (Did we mention that the administration strongly supports McCain's presidential run?).
Over the years, we've all become accustomed to disingenuous political discourse. A certain level of phoniness is understood to be part of the game. But McCain's troops ad not only shoved its own fake outrage in our face, it practically proclaimed to voters: "You're all idiots, and that's why we're sure you'll buy this."
The subsequent McCain ad equating Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton may have been more bizarre, but nothing matches the troops attack for naked audacity.
Taken together, these ads feel pathetic and inept, but that doesn't mean they won't work. When Lester Maddox stood in front of his restaurant back in the '60s with an axe to keep African-Americans away, it was also pathetic and inept, but it got him elected governor of Georgia. McCain hasn't sunk that far yet, but something tells me the Straight Talk Express is just beginning to build some steam.