Most artful commercial: No award. Political advertising is one of America's gifts to the world, like jazz and the blues, but this year's ads haven't contributed much to the art form. There's been a silly ad — the Obama campaign's commercial naming Big Bird a menace to America (to make fun of Mr. Romney's promise to stop funding PBS). There's been a risque ad — the Obama campaign's double-entendre video of actress Lena Dunham telling young women that their "first time" ought to be "with a great guy … a guy who cares whether you get health insurance." Their first time voting, she means.
But the only ad I've seen that pushes the creative envelope is from an independent conservative group, Americans for Prosperity. It shows a family sitting glumly around the dinner table, staring into their plates and saying nothing — for 22 uncomfortable seconds. Then words appear on the screen: "With 12.1 million Americans unemployed, it's time to try something different."
For the most part, this year's final burst of commercials has been negative, polarizing and often unfaithful to the truth. The spots have tried to hit voters' hot buttons, but they haven't offered much real information. They've been long on fear and short on hope. Most of the time, they haven't given voters a positive reason for voting either way. And they surely haven't built much of a mandate for the candidate who wins.
Just like the rest of the campaign, I guess.
Doyle McManus is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @DoyleMcManus.