Is Herman Cain's Smoking Ad Crazy or Brilliant?

10/30/2011 04:52 pm ET | Updated Dec 30, 2011

Herman Cain released a campaign video last week that got everyone talking. Some wondered whether the ad could be real, since it contained nothing more than Cain's chief-of-staff Mark Block standing, talking, and smoking a cigarette. In the days since the commercial's release on YouTube, discussion has turned in different directions, with executives pointing to the impact that viral videos can have on elections, others outraged over the pro-smoking message, and some parodying the original spot, most notably Jon Huntsman's daughters. Meanwhile, commentators tried to make sense of it all and pinpoint takeaways from Cain's latest campaign. Here, a roundup of the best takes:

The smoking "in your face" ad featuring chief of staff, Mark Block works. It annoys the elites and the pundits who really don't seem to understand how the growing majority of American people really feel. The smoking element is brilliant simply because it gets the cauldron of elitist feelings roiling. This is good, and anything which upsets the mindset of MSM -- and the left as a whole is even better.

Stated most bluntly, posting this ad reflects an irresponsible disregard for the health of the people Cain aims to represent. Whether his campaign knew better and disregarded that knowledge or remained willfully ignorant of the public health consequences of the power they already wield, this ad should help disqualify him for the office he seeks. Because even if you agree that we need to dismantle a "nanny-state," replacing it with a "neglect/abuse-state" would be even worse.

Yet despite the war on smoking, 50 million Americans choose to enjoy a legal product -- "choice" being the operative word that both Cain and Block have used in explaining the ad. One doesn't have to smoke (I don't) or sympathize with smokers to think the nation's regulatory bureaucracy has become a bit thick. What better way to make that statement than by blowing smoke in nanny's face? The devil may care what people think, but Herman Cain doesn't. He's not a slick politician, he likes to say. He's just a guy who knows how to run a company and let people be people.