Campaigns/Elections

The Campaign Turns Nasty

American voters deserve better than this vicious squabble

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At a moment when America faces hard choices and perhaps hard times, the presidential election campaign has largely degenerated into a vicious squabble whose poisonous effects are likely to be felt for years to come.

The nastiness has itself become the focus of debate: Who's the meanest of them all? Predictably, most Democrats point fingers at the Republicans and vice versa. In the blogs and in the more traditional media, liberal commentators accuse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of waging a campaign based on personal attacks and veiled appeals to bigotry, and whipping up their supporters into a frenzy of hate. Meanwhile, most conservative commentators assert that the lion's share of the negativity comes from Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) supporters. But in fact, there is plenty to go around.

There's no question that in recent weeks, most of the overt attacks have been from Republicans. While some claims of lynch-mob conduct at McCain-Palin rallies are vastly exaggerated, with one or two ugly outbursts magnified into a blanket charge, the ugliness is real—some of it coming from people associated with the campaign.

The other day, Virginia GOP chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick told McCain volunteers in a pep talk that Obama and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden "both have friends that bombed the Pentagon"—referring to Obama's connection to former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers. The repeated invocation of Obama's middle name, Hussein, has troubling overtones, as well.

Meanwhile, on many right-wing Web sites, Obama is everything from Hitler to a secret Communist to a Muslim mole. One bizarre rumor alleges that his memoir Dreams from My Father was ghostwritten by Ayers.

But does the current Republican edge in anger and negativity reflect superior Democratic virtue, or is it more related to the fact that the McCain-Palin campaign is struggling and lagging badly in the polls? Think back to September, when it appeared that the wave of Palin-generated enthusiasm might carry the Republican ticket to the White House. The outpouring of rage from the left was downright scary at times.

Comedienne Sandra Bernhard assailed Palin as a "turncoat" in a foul-mouthed rant at a Washington, D.C., theater; she reportedly suggested that Palin would be raped by black men if she dared to enter Manhattan. (Bernhard seemed to confirm this comment to the Daily News, but later denied it.) Some self-styled feminists hurled misogynist invectives, such as "pornographic centerfold"; a few posters on left-wing blogs vented obscenely violent fantasies about doing Palin harm. She was accused of everything from banning books to faking her own pregnancy to cover for her teenage daughter.

Bring up the fact that nastiness and paranoia in politics are a two-way street, and you will be blasted—by both sides—for the crime of moral equivalency. Of course there isn't always a precise equality between the two camps. Yet the bottom line is that neither side is without sin, and both are eager to throw stones.

In part, the hypocrisy stems from the sincere conviction that one's own hatred and fear are justified because the other side really is evil: Palin would usher in an American Taliban; Obama is a friend to terrorists. (By the way, it is appalling that so many mainstream liberals were willing to embrace the unrepentant Ayers—but it's hardly better for mainstream conservatives to "pal around" with Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, who once plotted to murder his fellow Americans and more recently counseled gun owners to shoot federal agents in the head.)

Many people who are tired of the mudslinging can't wait for the election to be over. But Nov. 4 is unlikely to bring much relief. The dogs of war are loose, and they won't be easy to leash. If, as seems likely, Obama is elected, a large number of people on the right will see him as a stealth radical who won thanks to media bias and rampant voter fraud. If McCain pulls off a surprise upset, at least as many people on the left will blame racism, Republican dirty tricks or both—and some will regard the results as proof that the right-wing cabal behind Bush will never let go of power. Either way, a substantial minority of Americans will see themselves as living under an illegitimate and evil regime.

And that's more frightening than the economic crisis.

Cathy Young is a reason contributing editor. A version of this article originally appeared at Newsday.

NEXT: Barr, the LP, and the New Yorker: Checking the Numbers

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  1. “and more recently counseled gun owners to shoot federal agents in the head.”

    I don’t always agree with Liddy, but if those federal agents are violating the rights of innocent Americans they SHOULD be shot in the head. Do not forget that Liddy was himself once a federal agent.

  2. Are both sides equally to blame?

    I’m going to be seriously disappointed if both sides aren’t equally to blame.

  3. One thing that’s not clear to me is how much control the campaigns have over this stuff. I can think of plenty of examples of the McCain campaign being pretty overtly dishonest in what it was doing, for instance claiming that Obama wouldn’t visit wounded troops bc they wouldn’t let him bring cameras, whereas most of the stuff being thrown at McCain comes from blogs and outlets not connected to the Obama campaign. I don’t know if that means that Obama is less responsible, or if it means he’s more talented, but that’s the pattern I’ve been seeing.

  4. American voters deserve better than this vicious squabble

    Why is that?

  5. I don’t get the thrust of this article. How is this different from any other election in living memory?

  6. “How is this different from any other election in living memory?”

    Haven’t you been paying attention? This is….THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIME!!! (narrowly beating out the election before this one, which narrowly beat out the election before that, which narrowly beat…you get my point)

  7. We americans regularly shell out 50 bucks for a pay per view royale rumble consisting of empty headed sacks of steroids doing choreograghed “rasslin.” Why in the name of all that is holy would we want less from our politicians?

  8. “We americans regularly shell out 50 bucks for a pay per view royale rumble consisting of empty headed sacks of steroids doing choreograghed “rasslin.” Why in the name of all that is holy would we want less from our politicians?”

    And Jesse Ventura would make a better president than either of the two major party candidates.

  9. “American voters” are ignorant, shallow, greedy douchebags. And they get the government they deserve.

    And lest this sound “elitist”, I would point out that for as long as I can remember (which would be the early 70s), folks–most of them conservatives, but not exclusively–have been pointing out how awful our education “system” is, with innumerable examples of how Johnny can’t find France on a map, grade inflation, bullshit curricula, etc. Well, guess what–someday these generations of high functioning morons had to grow up, and by God they did. And now they are your “American voter”. So please take any “elitist” rejoinders and blow them out your ass.

    Christ, I need decaf today!

  10. “American voters deserve better than this vicious squabble”

    Um, no, we really don’t.

  11. Jefferson vs Adamns now that one was nasty.

  12. This same article gets reused every four years. Nobody will remember any of this campaign nastiness a month from now.

    The media will have moved on to handicapping the 2012 horserace. The Nov. 4 winner will be gathering up a collection of Clinton/Bush retreads for the coming maladministration, and Sarah Palin will have begun her 2012 campaign in earnest.

  13. Oh noes! Politicians say horrible things about each other to get elected! However will the republic survive!

    Anybody here ever read about politics in the 1800s? The current attack by proxy game is weak sauce compared to old-school machine smears.

  14. “I don’t always agree with Liddy, but if those federal agents are violating the rights of innocent Americans they SHOULD be shot in the head.”

    Really? How about a trial first?

    By the way, this is the most interesting webpage for Liddy out there. Make sure to read the “Executive summary” and “Risk Factors” sections:

    http://www.nndb.com/people/349/000023280/

    The guy graduated from the same high school as I did.

  15. I love how Cathy Young’s only concrete example of negative campaigning from the Obama campaign is:

    Comedienne Sandra Bernhard assailed Palin as a “turncoat” in a foul-mouthed rant at a Washington, D.C., theater; she reportedly suggested that Palin would be raped by black men if she dared to enter Manhattan. (Bernhard seemed to confirm this comment to the Daily News, but later denied it.)

    Some comedian somewhere may have said something offensive? Shame on you, Barack Obama! And pass the smelling salts!

    “Pox on both your houses” pieces are pretty lame in general; this one is lame even by those standards.

  16. hi from the islands

    I’d just like to say, pre-umptively or whatever, before this story comes out, that mentioning me is just the kind of dirty campaigning we need to avoid

    oooh, did I say “dirty?” heehee!

  17. I’m no fan of Obama but all the people on Obama’s side Young cites aren’t members of the campaign or even politicians. The Obama attackers are all directly related to the campaign or the republican party — big difference.

  18. If the two candidates candidly laid out their actual ideology (or lack thereof), neither would win any votes.

    Seriously.

    Hello, I’m Barack Obama. I’m a left wing socialist who joined a black liberation church and pals around with hard core communists because I think whitey has been keeping my people down for far too long. If you give me complete control, I will craft policies that squeeze the ants just hard enough that they won’t dodge the system, and all the grasshoppers can get new toilets in their government housing.

    Hello, I’m John McCain. I was a badass in my youth, but now I’m a pudgy Senator who hasn’t made a decision in 30+ years. I have strong feelings, but I’m not very bright, so I routinely let my colleagues use me as a tool to achieve exactly the opposite of what I think I want. But at least I’m bipartisan!

  19. Comedienne Sandra Bernhard assailed Palin as a “turncoat” in a foul-mouthed rant at a Washington, D.C., theater; she reportedly suggested that Palin would be raped by black men if she dared to enter Manhattan. (Bernhard seemed to confirm this comment to the Daily News, but later denied it.)

    I’m beginning to think the Large Hadron Collider malfunctioned and transported Earth into some parallel universe in which some people actually give a rat’s ass about what Sandra Bernhard has to say.

    Seriously, that’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  20. “I don’t always agree with Liddy, but if those federal agents are violating the rights of innocent Americans they SHOULD be shot in the head.”

    “Really? How about a trial first?”

    If someone threatens my life or liberty I may not have the time for such formalities.

  21. brotherben,

    I am shocked, shocked!, that you would equate the Great American Passtime of Professional Sports Entertainment with politics.

    Normally I enjoy reading your posts but this, sir, goes too far!

  22. In the good old days, Presidential candidates allowed the party machines in the various states, party members in franked Congressional speeches, and the national parties, to do the dirty, slimy smear-job stuff. The candidate himself stayed at home, not making lots of partisan speeches, because after all (if you believed his claims) he didn’t want to run for President in the first place, and wishes he were back on the farm chopping wood.

    Then Presidential candidates started going around making speeches. And in addition to the traditional proxies, we have bloggers and celebrities. This gives more room for plausible deniability.

    “I repudiate this nasty (and apparently very effective) smear. I don’t want my supporters doing this kind of thing. (don’t stop!) It violates my principles. (my principle is to get elected!) My opponent is an honorable man. (who eats babies)”

  23. “Make sure to read the “Executive summary” and “Risk Factors” sections”

    Yep, Liddy is a vegetarian. He has also come out against animal testing. He once did an advertisement for PETA. It was an advert against some lab that was testing chimps I think. People would normally not think a conservative talk show host would take such a stand.

  24. It always amuses me when people proclaim any event the ‘biggest’ of its kind (or the ‘most’, or any similar modifier)… I mean, seriously now, history didn’t start in 1970. As T points out, this kind of nastiness is nothing compared to what has usually passed for electoral politics most places, most definitely including our dear old republic. (Just as our current ‘oh noes the world is ending’ financial crisis looks rather less formidable in context with something like the South Sea Bubble. Where’s the imminent collapse of public finance, assholes?)

  25. This same article gets reused every four years. Nobody will remember any of this campaign nastiness a month from now.

    To wit: Operation Chaos! Hillary is going to cost Obama the election! Help, help, it’s Geraldine Ferraro!

  26. “Either way, a substantial minority of Americans will see themselves as living under an illegitimate and evil regime.

    And that’s more frightening than the economic crisis. ”

    what is more frightening? the fact that we do live under a illegitimate and evil regime or the fact that people are waking up to it?

    I think Cathy Young has a crush on the elite banksters who just stole 700 billion dollars from the middle class.

    Personally, I am still hoping to see uprecedented disappointment from the millions of neo-con supporters when they find out a gun grabbing tax raising commie is ready to start make them “sacrficiing more”.

    At that point I hope the media reminds the neo-con supporters that they defended Bush and Cheney as they made every effort to increase the power of the executive branch.

  27. I’ll also be interested in hearing TallDave’s opinion of the invasion of pakistan or russia or tyrantsuckville once Obama is in.

  28. “American voters deserve better than this vicious squabble”

    If the American voter really wanted “better than this” then I would imagine that negative campaigning would not be effective.

    Yet it is. I am pretty sure this is an obvious instance where the market has spoken, and “it” (in the aggregate) is not offended by negative campaigning

  29. “To wit: Operation Chaos! Hillary is going to cost Obama the election! Help, help, it’s Geraldine Ferraro!”

    GREEK COLUMNS!

  30. Of course both sides do it, you have the Pres and VP candidates and the chairman of the state GOP on one side, while on the other side there’s a comedienne plus some anonymous feminists and blog posters. Pretty weak Cathy.

    OT: I bet Ironic has slept with a firearm before.

  31. I think Cathy Young has a crush on the elite banksters who just stole 700 billion dollars from the middle class.

    I read today that that after AIG got some of their government money they used to to pay lobbyists to lobby against mortgage regulations. Having tax payers fund your lobbying efforts. Now that is a sweet deal.

  32. Ok I’m back, I just want to say that what we need in this day and age is a strong bipartisian leadership. We need the people of this country to regain their faith in government. We need the masses to love and trust the altruistic deity like creatures who benevolently rule over the lives of less intelligent mortals. The people deserve to see nice smiles and hear well rehearsed and tested speaches, we do not want the politicians to have to react to wild accusations, this is too difficult to control. If half of the people in this coutnry don’t trust he leadership then how can we expect the public servants to accomplish anthing?
    please can’t we all agree to love government

  33. Talk about false equivalency, comparing Sandra Bernhard to the Virginia GOP chairman? For fucks sake, Bernhard saying that was the best thing she could have done for her career, since no one has heard about her since the Reagan administration. What’s next, comparing Michelle Bachmann demand to look for unAmerican congresscritters to an especially ribald Gilbert Gottfried bit?

    I’m not saying there hasn’t been some Dem nastiness, but you need to get a better example than Sandra Bernhard. Here’s a hint, try John Murtha calling all of Western Pennsylvania racist. It’s a spurious and hateful charge and it’s by someone that actually matters.

  34. As usual, Reason whines, but offers no solution.

    The fundamental solution to this problem is for the MSM to finally do their job. And, here’s how you can get the mainstream media to do their job. If you want to help resolve many of the problems we face, send that link to as many MSM reporters as you can find.

  35. DYING CRAZY OLD MAN!
    MONGOLOID INCEST BABY!
    RAPE KITS!
    BOOK BANNING!
    100 YEAR WAR!
    SHOOTING WOLVES FROM HELICOPTERS!
    ALASKA INDEPENDENCE PARTY!
    ALL LIBERTARIANS FAULT!
    LEFT HIS WIFE FOR AN HEIRESS!
    BUSH IS HITLER/MCCAIN IS BUSH/MCCAIN IS HITLER!
    RACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACIST!!!

    I’m going to be seriously disappointed if both sides aren’t equally to blame.

    Only if you are trying to be even-handed.

  36. Orange Line Special – “Before reading an article, a news consumer might spend just a few seconds doing a little research and be able to quickly find page after page detailing past instances of that reporter’s low journalistic ethics.”

    They might, but how likely is it really?

  37. You guys really need to go ahead and photoshop out that folder. It ruins the romantic air of the photo.

  38. Technomist: there are ways to make certain reporters more widely known. For instance, I’ve left probably hundreds of comments taking reporters to task right on their articles. See the comments here (from others) for an example.

    Also, high profile articles listing the worst of them. Or, when they attend public events calling them on their lies and uploading it to Youtube: “you said this, but you took it out of context and you never issued a correction. What sort of reporter are you?” etc.

  39. I don’t think the negativeness of Obama’s campaign is comparable to that of McCain’s (which should be qualified with the note that much of the really negative stuff is RNC or other groups).

    I’m not saying Obama is more noble somehow, he’s in the lead and the person in the lead can at times afford to run as many positive ads as negative ones. But I’ve seen quite a few of Obama’s ads where it is just him sitting there explaining his “vision” and policies. I’ve only seen one McCain ad like that (“the past eight years haven’t been good have they”).

    The negative ads from Obama I have seen are usually a criticism of McCain’s health care proposal, criticism of McCain’s votes on energy and one that criticizes him for voting with Bush “90% of the time.” The anti-Obama ads talk about Ayers or Wright or use the “just bombing villages quote” or they curiously tie Obama to the bailout.

  40. Certainly someone out there has done an analysis of the % of the ad budgets of the respective campaigns going into negative ads?

  41. Obama is honest. most of his youtube videos are his ACTUAL speeches.

    McCain only has his ads up.

    Obama wants people to see his ideas. McCain has none so he doesn’t put them online.

  42. MNG–

    Obama spends more on negative ads. However, McCain runs *only* negative ads (100%) even if he spends less on negative ads since he has less money.

  43. I usually think Cathy is right on. But the nastiness in this election seems par for the course to me – not a new low. Gotta have thick skin to run for the top office.

  44. Liddy is pure, unadulterated fascism. He’d be a charming anachronism if it weren’t for the criminality. He only advocated killing federal agents because the federal agents in question were with the wrong department. Brownshirt fanboi down to the mustache. To take it any further he’d have to be a vegetarian.

    Wait, what? You’re kidding me.

  45. He who throws dirt
    Loses ground

  46. DYING CRAZY OLD MAN!
    Not nasty, true.
    MONGOLOID INCEST BABY!
    Link from someone connected to Obama’s campaign, please.
    RAPE KITS!
    Not nasty, true.
    BOOK BANNING!
    Not nasty, true.
    100 YEAR WAR!
    Not nasty, true.
    SHOOTING WOLVES FROM HELICOPTERS!
    Not nasty, true.
    ALASKA INDEPENDENCE PARTY!
    Not nasty, true.
    ALL LIBERTARIANS FAULT!
    WTF? Feeling lonely, SIV?
    LEFT HIS WIFE FOR AN HEIRESS!
    “Left his DISFIGURED wife for an heiress.” True.
    BUSH IS HITLER/MCCAIN IS BUSH/MCCAIN IS HITLER!
    You have an active fantasy life, SIV. You get that from Liddy’s site?
    RACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACIST!!!
    Wait a minute … are you talking about the Republicans, here? They’ve made this claim at least as often as any Democrat has.

    For the record, there really has been a big disparity between the true nastiness exhibited by the Rs when compared to the Ds. McCain et al. equate Obama with being a terrorist and a socialist. Neither are true, yet they persist. There are many, many McCain “attack” ads out there that strike at Obama’s personality, his culture and tenuous, at best, connections to various figures that have nothing to do with running the U.S.

    If you really believe that the Obama camp has been equally nasty as the McCain camp, then provide links. Otherwise you show yourself to be an ignorant tool.

  47. I’m trying to imagine what it would look like if Obama and McCain really took similar tones in their campaigns. The closest I can come is imagining an Obama rally where the crowd is yelling, “don’t vote for whitey!”

  48. Obama = terrorist

    ergo …

    Anyone who votes for him = terrorist

    ergo …

    McCain wins!

  49. If they took similar tones you might hear about how McCain is an acknowledged adulterer.

    Or ads about why he signed on to the propaganda stuff the VC pushed on him in the prison camps (“John McCain denounced his own nation”).

    You would have heard about his association with the World League for Freedom and Democracy which has been linked to anti-Semites and Nazis.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Anti-Communist_League

    That kind of stuff.

  50. It’d be as stupid as the “Obama served on a charity board with terrorist Bill Ayers” or “Obama’s minister’s uncle’s brother said x”, but if the two campaigns were equally bad you’d be hearing it.

  51. I really wish Obama would release an ad showing a clip of, say, Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland calling Obama “uppity”, then cutting to David Huddleston dressed as Olson Johnson* from Blazing Saddles, saying, “I think he said, ‘the democratic presidential nominee is near‘.” That would be awesome.

    * Yeah, I know Dr. Sam Johnson actually uttered that line, but Richard Collier died in 2000, and since Huddleston is also the Big Lebowski, he’s a good substitute.

  52. hmph. Reason ate my link to the Lynn Westmoreland quote. That must mean he never really said it.

  53. What like an Irish Monk?

  54. Rumors that Thomas Jefferson had several children with one of his slaves are still unconfirmed.

  55. We don’t take kindly to uppity n- Oh crap! The recorder’s on!?

  56. “I’ve never heard that term [uppity] used in a racially derogatory sense. It is important to note that the dictionary definition of ‘uppity’ is ‘affecting an air of inflated self-esteem – snobbish.’ That’s what we meant by uppity when we used it in the mill village where I grew up.”[

  57. “John McCain is getting more negative media coverage than Barack Obama, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.
    The study, released Wednesday, examined 2,412 campaign stories from 48 news outlets during the six weeks from the end of the conventions through the final presidential debate.
    The results: While the candidates are receiving equal amounts of coverage, 59% of stories about McCain were “decidedly negative in nature,” while only 14% were positive.
    Obama hasn’t exactly been fawned over by media, but the coverage statistically has been more evenhanded, with 36% of stories clearly positive, 35% neutral or mixed, and 29% negative.

    Put it another way: Obama gets treated positively 250% more often than John McCain, who gets treated negatively more than 200% more than Obama. And that’s from equal amounts of coverage, which is in itself just a little surprising. Just imagine what it would like if the coverage was imbalanced.

  58. Even I know what “uppity” means, Rep. Westmoreland.

  59. The election of Thomas Jefferson will mean “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced”

    (also a Jeffersonian newspaper wrote that Adams was a rageful, lying, warmongering fellow, and a “gross hypocrite”)

  60. Pew
    Did you miss that this post is about the candidate’s advertising and not the media’s coverage?

    And, by the way, on that topic, from conservative Robert Lichter’s Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) survey of summer coverage:

    “Since the primaries ended, on-air evaluations of Barack Obama have been 72% negative (vs. 28% positive). That’s worse than John McCain’s coverage, which has been 57% negative (vs. 43% positive) during the same time period.”

  61. The Hartford Courant in 1800 (for reals!),

    Didn’t Jefferson used to associate with a bunch of revolutionary, anti-government types? I’m sure that was relevant to the election.

  62. Check out the 1828 Adams vs. Jackson election if you want to see a real mudfight.

    Did you know that John Quincy Adams is a compulsive gambler and a monarchist?

    Did you know that Andrew Jackson is a murderer, ad cheats on his wife with prostitutes?

  63. BDB-
    The conventional wisdom is that Rachael Jackson was so upset at the attacks against her* during the campaign that it actually killed her (about two weeks after Jackson’s election)

    *the (sort of accurate) claim was that she had not properly divorced her first (alcoholic & abusive) husband before marrying Andrew, which made her a bigamist, adulterer, harlot, etc.

  64. I can’t think of a more banal, insulting article in Reason than this one.

  65. “Even I know what “uppity” means, Rep. Westmoreland.”

    Yea, the same way that I know what “socialist” means.

  66. “Did you know that Andrew Jackson is a murderer, and cheats on his wife with prostitutes?”

    Nope, I thought that was Bill Clinton.

  67. DYING CRAZY OLD MAN!
    MONGOLOID INCEST BABY!
    RAPE KITS!
    BOOK BANNING!
    100 YEAR WAR!
    SHOOTING WOLVES FROM HELICOPTERS!
    ALASKA INDEPENDENCE PARTY!
    ALL LIBERTARIANS FAULT!
    LEFT HIS WIFE FOR AN HEIRESS!
    BUSH IS HITLER/MCCAIN IS BUSH/MCCAIN IS HITLER!
    RACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACISTRACIST!!!

    What’s amazing, as you’ve pointed out, is how much low hanging fruit the Obama campaign hasn’t grabbed.

  68. What’s good about this is Obama is responding to the calls of communism by shifting fiscally to the right of McCain who really is a well known authoritarian, making McCain look even more insane.

  69. I remember the election of 1800. It was some cantankerous old fart as the incumbent versus a young, eloquent fellow who wrote a number of fine documents.

  70. Barack, can I please lick your butt?

  71. Good, it took only four posts to dig into the “Americans deserve better [insert absolutely anything]” shtick. This is the land where we let Lil Wayne blog on ESPN and we worry about how to have sex in Fable 2. I mean, this is the sales pitch for the guy running for mayor in my city, everything [sic]:

    We are growing too fast and the traffic is too much for our little town., and everyone must slow down our driving so that no one get hit We need to slow down our growth so we can save our wild life we have here, they have a right to live here too. I am for the kids in our schools; they need better teachers and better schools. The kids are our future. I am for the bus company’s that drive through our street’s, they need more funding to get the better driver’s and better bus’s, we also take the bus more to save on the high gas prices for the environment. I am for the elderly and low income families; we need more low income housing, and all people should qualify for housing no matter their income. I am for the businesses here in Dublin, I want to see more businesses hire more people that live here, and I want them to hire more disabled persons

    We really get what we deserve.

  72. Comedienne Sandra Bernhard

    I would change that to “would-be comedienne”. That cow’s never been funny in her life.

    -jcr

  73. Do not forget that Liddy was himself once a federal agent.

    So, I wonder if Liddy would advocate shooting Liddy if he were, say, burgling the offices of a political opponent?

    -jcr

  74. So, I wonder if Liddy would advocate shooting Liddy if he were, say, burgling the offices of a political opponent?

    Liddy seems like the type to travel back in time and split his own wig.

    We really get what we deserve.

    Some innocents always end up paying the price too, though.

  75. Obama gets treated positively 250% more often than John McCain, who gets treated negatively more than 200% more than Obama. And that’s from equal amounts of coverage, which is in itself just a little surprising.

    Could it possibly have anything to do with McCain being a preternatural douche?

    I think it might.

  76. “What’s good about this is Obama is responding to the calls of communism by shifting fiscally to the right of McCain”

    Exactly what has Obama done to shift to the right?

  77. Exactly what has Obama done to shift to the right?

    [Stands very still]

    [Slowly shifts weight onto right foot]

    [psst!] I’m moving very quietly so as not to disturb Gilbert Martin’s keen ideology-sensing powers!

    [Leans rightwards]

  78. This is a lame article. “Negativity” isn’t a problem. Increased tactfulness and beating around the bush isn’t going to help voters make a more informed decision.

  79. “[Slowly shifts weight onto right foot]”

    You’re as funny as a screen door in a submarine.

  80. So, I wonder if Liddy would advocate shooting Liddy if he were, say, burgling the offices of a political opponent?

    I have no doubt that Liddy would say that was a risk that he took.

  81. Mr. Nice Guy,

    It’s not a level playing field. That’s obviously relevant to how the players play.

    Also, CMPA agrees with Pew:

    http://www.cmpa.com/media_room_press_8.htm

    Barack Obama has widened his lead over John McCain in the race for good press, and Sarah Palin’s press has turned sharply negative on network news shows, according to a new study by Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). The study also finds that network news coverage is more substantive than in other recent presidential campaigns.

    These results are the latest update from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) 2008 Election News Watch Project. They are based on a scientific content analysis of 585 election news stories that aired from August 23 through September 30 (12 hours 57 minutes of airtime) that aired on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Fox Special Report (first half hour) from August 23 to September 30. We report on all on-air evaluations of the candidates by sources and reporters, after excluding comments by the campaigns and their surrogates.

    MAJOR FINDINGS:

    Obamamania: Since the party conventions kicked off the final phase of the presidential campaign, comments about Senator Barack Obama on the network evening news shows have been 65% positive, compared to only 36% positive comments about Senator John McCain.

  82. “Negative coverage” in those studies includes stories about the two campaign’s strategies and tactics.

    I would say that it would be far more biased if the media’s horserace coverage was equally positive about McCain-Palin than Obama-Biden.

    The coverage of the Red Sox was much more negative than the coverage of the Rays after the game seven. Damn liberal media.

  83. I would say that it would be far more biased if the media’s horserace coverage was equally positive about McCain-Palin than Obama-Biden.

    This rather assumes the conclusion, doesn’t it? Namely, that McCain-Palin deserve negative press, and Obama-Biden don’t?

  84. Americans deserve what they’ve been getting. Vote in a police-state theocracy/kleptocracy and what do you expect? That’s why I moved out of that shit-hole a long time ago.

  85. RC,

    Yes, I’m going way out on a limb, and stating that the Obama campaign has run an objectively better political campaign over the past couple of months than the McCain camp.

    Do you seriously think this is a debateable point? The polling on every one of the debates was overwhelmingly favorable to the Democrats. McCain responded to the meltdown by suspending his campaign, then unsuspending his campaign, then bailing on the debate, then going to the debate, then announcing that he’d produced a deal, then having the deal fall through.

    Meanwhile, Sarah Palin did interviews. Ugh.

    This isn’t really a matter of opinion; they’ve been running a lousy campaign since July.

    Seriously, are you sitting there and saying “No, that’s not true, McCain-Palin has been doing a great job! I hope all the candidates I support run their campaigns like them?” I don’t think you are.

  86. Seriously, are you sitting there and saying “No, that’s not true, McCain-Palin has been doing a great job! I hope all the candidates I support run their campaigns like them?” I don’t think you are.

    Remember you’re talking about a guy who still thinks the Iraq war was a good idea.

  87. Cunnivore, you can’t be serious. Do you think that McCain can still think?

  88. In my mind the evolution of the internet has opened up a lot of lines of communication that weren’t there in the past and that’s why this election seems so tense. Every major political article has message boards full of opinions, some articulate and many ad hominem attacks on the opposite side. Basically there are just a lot of jerks out there spewing their viewpoints and neither party can control them, nor do they have the right to. I think Americans just have to develop a thicker skin and not give intellectual time to some of the nonsense out there.

  89. If the American people want better from their politicians then we shouldn’t have voted in these clowns in the first place. The reason the parties act like this is because they respond to what wins votes, as is their own self-interest. Thomas Jefferson once said that people get the government they deserve. Noting how immature, petty, and self-important our elected representatives currently act, I’d say that is an accurate statement. If these are the governing officials that our population produces what does that say about us, as a whole?

  90. Sorry Cathy, I disagree. A Republican electorate that prefers John McCain over Ron Paul deserves something this bad.

    If voters wanted to make informed decisions based upon rational, intelligent statements about policy, Ron Paul would at least be running against Obama.

  91. “Both sides are equally negative?” How trite. How intellectually useless. What a cowardly way to cop out of looking at what’s really going on.

    McCain/Palin have made the idea that Americans don’t know “who is Barack Obama” (the implication being that the real Obama is a traitor) a central part of their campaign.

    Implying that one’s political opponent is a traitor who has no problem with terrorists blowing up Americans is not remotely comparable to pointing out–accurately–that one’s political opponent is “erratic” (and possibly senile).

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