Republican strategists who saw how quickly the commercial was downloaded, e-mailed and reshown on news broadcasts certainly thought so. Rush Limbaugh rushed in to discredit Mr. Fox, though he mostly hurt himself. Mr. Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, told his listeners that the actor either “didn’t take his medication or was acting.” Mr. Limbaugh later apologized for accusing Mr. Fox of exaggerating his symptoms, but said that “Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democrat politician.”Wheeling out Jesus, mumbling in Aramaic, is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen in a political ad. And accusing Michael J. Fox of hamming it up, looking extra-sick, is mindbogglingly stupid.
Republicans cobbled together a response ad that did not mention Mr. Fox but attacked the ethics of embryonic stem cell research. It included testimonials by the actress Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and James Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.” At least in the advance version shown on YouTube last night, Mr. Caviezel’s introduction seemed either garbled or to be in Aramaic.
I think there are going to be a lot more attempts to produce the kinds of ads that push the envelope and make everyone want to watch on YouTube. But that's going to mean there will be all sorts of mistakes and lapses for us to talk about for days. It's great blog fodder, but I'm afraid we're going to get terribly distracted by these things. And we're only just getting started.