Yes, negative advertising works. And McCain must be very proud, given this kind of stuff.

The substantive differences between the candidates are pretty stark. Old, young. Computer literate, not computer literate. Keep taxes on the wealthy down or not. Health care for more or not. Diplomacy vs. war. Bush 3 against not Bush 3. On and on.

This is going to be the election that definitively exposes just how smart or stupid the American electorate really is. 2004 gave us a hint, but according to all polling data most voters have figured out maybe electing Bush the Lesser the second time wasn’t all that good an idea. (Anyone can make a mistake once!)

But McCain is playing to The Stupid, and it is working, and I’m not sure how Obama should deal with it. My own personal guess is that he should hold his fire, keep watchful eyes on how things are playing out, and have a TON of nasty stuff ready to go should he need it. He can play that stuff soft during the debates, bobbing and jabbing with lines like, “I haven’t brought up the character issues that some people could use about how you left your first wife,” or, “I haven’t mentioned the Keating scandal once, because we have more pressing issues to discuss than your ‘character.'”

Like that.

But the ads should be at Defcon 5 for the final month.

No charge.

Thanks to Joe Klein for the video tip.

Update: Oops! Michael Scherer deserves the tip. Joe (or someone CLAIMING to be Joe) has been so sane lately I just naturally attributed it to him.