All's Fair in Love and Political Ads

The CEO of the public relations firm Burson Marsteller, Mark Penn, likes John McCain's TV ad likening Barack Obama to celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. "Hillary Clinton's former top strategist wrote the ad tries to 'portray Obama's leadership for change as something fluffy and useless.' It bears a Republican political trademark 'attacking a candidate's strengths rather than the candidate’s weaknesses.'" In an essay posted on, Penn contends that "clever negative ad can be devastatingly effective." He says that like the McCain ad, "Some negative ads crystallize voters' opinions without presenting any new information." Penn isn't troubled by that. "This year, you can expect a tough political season and plenty of negative ads. Done fairly, they serve a legitimate role." As CMD reported previously, Mark Penn was demoted from his role as "chief strategist" with the Hillary Clinton campaign after several embarrassing conflicts of interest came to light.