The general election has begun! And so has the onslaught of campaign ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: President Obama makes his case that we've come a long way since 2008, and a conservative group goes on the attack against teachers.

The Ad: Barack Obama, "Go"

The Issues: All the stuff that's happened since the financial crisis.

The Message: There are three interesting messages in the ad. First, it spends quite a bit of time on reminding viewers how deep the financial crisis was "before he took office." Second, the add takes a shot at the Tea Party, with the narrator saying over clips of people dressed in tricorner hats, "Some said our best days were behind us." Third, it's a more subtle use of Joe Biden's line, that Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. The ad shows busy factory workers and boasts, "Our greatest enemy brought to justice by our greatest heroes." Okay, so the economy isn't great -- but it could be worse! "We're not there yet. It's still too hard for too many, but we're coming back because America's greatness comes from a middle class," the narrator says.

Who It's For: It's a shorter version of a 7-minute Web ad the Obama campaign released last week. The ad, the first paid positive spot of the Obama campaign, Politico reports, will air this week in these swing states: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

What Everyone Else Thinks: About 9 percent of American workers work in manufacturing. For office drones, montages of happy factory workers are more likely create feelings of nostalgia for Sesame Street videos about, say, how Crayons are made.

The Effect: We gave the long version of the ad, which seemed more focused on rallying disenchanted supporters, a C. This one is blessedly shorter, and the message seems geared toward a slightly broader audience. It tries to be sunny and optimistic -- "Because Americans don't quit, and neither does he" -- but it's a little bland. B-


The Ad: State Government Leadership Foundation, "Teachers Unions: Bullying Our Kids"

The Issues: Teachers' use of collective bargaining to increase their wages and benefits.

The Message: This ad is hilarious -- unintentionally so, it seems. "They're bullies. And they're destroying our children's future," the ad says. Who are the big scary bullies? Mean teachers. Mean teachers counting their wads of cash as they "protect failing teachers… while American kids fall further behind the Chinese." 

Who It's For: People whose memories of mean teachers are more strong than their memories of nice teachers. Politico's James Hohmann reports it will air in these more union-friendly states: New York, New Mexico, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

What Everyone Else Thinks: The ad is close to a Stephen Colbert parody -- or the product of a superPAC run by fourth-graders who rewrite the lyrics to Christmas carols to celebrate the barbecuing of a teacher's head. 

The Effect: It's an odd choice to call teachers bullies, since bullying tends to be a liberal cause while curbing union power tends to be a conservative cause. D