The John McCain campaign must be feeling absolutely desperate, because his organization has started resorting to absolute absurdity in its attempts to frighten voters away from Barack Obama.

A series of recent television ads first sought to portray Obama as an overblown boy bimbo, comparing his leadership ability to that of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton, “celebrities” whose main claim to fame is being famous and behaving badly. The ad closes with McCain striking a beatific pose.

That shallow slap was so ridiculous that people were more likely to laugh and shake their head at its stupidity than to take it seriously.

Other ads, however, are very serious, and very wrong-headed, designed to play to the fanatical fringe of evangelicals. Building on e-mail rumors arising from really bad Bible study, at least one ad portrays Obama as a self-anointed religious figure who could easily be interpreted as the Antichrist. Such claims reveal high levels of both biblical ignorance and intellectual gullibility.

Perhaps the worst piece of this is that McCain has not disowned the ads. Apparently he hasn’t distanced himself that far from John Hagee and the wild-eyed apocalyptics after all. Is he ready to lead?

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