It’s been pretty depressing to see the slime tactics proliferating in this campaign. And while there’s no question that both sides are going negative, there’s one side that’s going ugly, and making stuff up. And that is our desperate GOP, the party that sees its monopoly on power possibly slipping from its grasp. In Tennessee, in Virginia, in Missouri, in many other places, it’s not at all pretty right now.
On the brink of what could be a power-shifting election, it is kitchen-sink time: Desperate candidates are throwing everything. While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year’s version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion.
At the same time, the growth of “independent expenditures” by national parties and other groups has allowed candidates to distance themselves from distasteful attacks on their opponents, while blogs and YouTube have provided free distribution networks for eye-catching hatchet jobs.
The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters. The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending more than 90 percent of its advertising budget on negative ads, according to GOP operatives, and the rest of the party seems to be following suit.
At least in Virginia, Jim Webb is fighting back against George Allen’s smears.
Overall, though, I think Democrats still haven’t fully adapted to the new realities of smear and jeer politics.
Race to the bottom? Or is there some way to struggle to the top?