I'm somewhat less impressed by John McCain's new ad than Jason is, though it's certainly a vast improvement over the taunting juvenilia the campaign's been peddling for the last week. Still, for an ad clearly intended to contrast McCain with Bush and re-establish his independent brand, it manages not to cite any actual disagreement with the president. Moreover, his declaration that Americans are "worse off" than four years ago conflicts with past statements, and his vague promise to "battle Big Oil" is sorely undercut by its recent campaign largesse and his flip-flop on drilling. (Either would seem ripe for a response from the Obama camp.)
More important, there's this question of whether McCain is the "original maverick." And while, sure, he predates Tom Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and even Mel Gibson's retro spin as Bret Maverick, I hope he's not saying he was roaming the range before James Garner, who played the eldest son of the Maverick clan all the way back in the 50s. Among other drawbacks, I'm not sure McCain wants to project the image of someone who sits around idly whittling in a rocking chair and claiming, "I'm working on it," while others do his job for him.
Update: Indeed, as anticipated, the Obama camp is already sending around this clip of McCain claiming that "Americans overall are better off" than they were eight years ago. It's not a devastating retort--McCain allows that there's plenty of bad economic news--but it certainly undercuts the ad's "worse off" soundbite.
Update update: Finally got this YouTube to work (for now). Riverboat, ring your bell!: