Is this the nastiest, meanest Presidential campaign of modern times?

The 2004 campaign was nasty, but at least to my perception this one is way, way past it. It’s now pretty much open season for Republicans to claim “liberals” are un-American terrorists. The Democrats are winning and haven’t quite gone that far but their own primary was unusually vicious, with plentiful race-baiting and attempts to change campaign rules to the advantage of various candidates, and I’ve no doubt they’ll crack open the artillery if things get close these last few weeks.

The stuff I’m seeing on TV is just beyond the pale. Two major networks have abandoned all pretense of objectivity. The talking heads are saying things I would expect of campus radicals or Nazi henchmen. I just saw a clip of Dennis Miller babbling about Obama and I’m pretty sure he was drunk. I don’t recall Reagan and Mondale saying shit like this about each other, or even Clinton and Dole. Or even Bush and Gore.

Is this the worst it’s ever been?

Before I continue, it would help to know what your definition of modern times is.

Obviously, the 19th century is out (and campaigns were really vicious then), but I’d like to know when you think modern times began before I can make any nominations.

I’ve been paying attention since '68 and this is by far the worst. The Senate campaigh in Oregon is dreadful as well. Way, way over the top.

Having just seen “W.” tonight I was reminded of Willie Horton again, which is in the movie. Is this really worse than Willie Horton?

I think it is, and simply because the game is played by totally different rules, even in the space of four years.

The political game is now played in quick minutes, with an array of broadcast media outlets, and a 24/7 internet sphere. It gets nasty because the game is now based on quick judgement to deal with that milieu, and that type of judgement isn’t necessarily the best for longterm goals. I’m not sure what we can do about that sort of reactionary approach, besides coming to a skidding halt of examination.

To me, it’s immensely sad that it also burns out the voters in thinking they can do anything to help their own country. I pay a whole lot of attention to issues, and work hard to educate myself to vote conscientiously, but, this crap is burning me out .

They haven’t killed any of the Democratic candidates yet, but yeah, this is a bad year.

I remember 1988 very well and this is far worse. Dukakis was beaten early in that campaign.

This is the worst one in a long time. Shouts of “Kill Him” and “Terrorist” The 1988 get out of jail free cards were making fun of Dukakis’ prison furlough program. Ok, they were making fun of a policy, but no one advocated his assassination.

I will be glad when this one is over. I don’t like the way it makes me feel about McCain supporters.

I would say with the advent of mass media as we currently understand it, which would mean at least wire service and radio. So, basically, after World War I.

Has anyone tried to sway this election yet using forged documents?

No cites available here, but IMHO 2000 and 2004 were much worse. GWB, the only POTUS to earn degrees from Harvard and Yale, has been treated like an absolute moron because of occasional slips of the tongue. OTOH, the attacks on Palin have been pretty awful - I think they came up with 91 false rumors during the first two weeks. Also this seems to be the first time that there’s been a sustained pattern of attacks on a candidate’s children. And The NYT went after Cindy McCain this weekend, but hasn’t had time to investigate Michelle Obama.

To be fair there’s only been a few wackos attacking McCain in over the top nasty ways. Not enough to matter.

I don’t think that Obama or Biden have been treated unfairly. Most Republicans just seem to accept that Biden makes a lot of gaffes, much more than Bush ever did. How much have you heard about them? Like within the last day or so, he said the word “JOBS” has three letters. No big deal, when I heard about it there was no commentary except that if Palin had said that…

As for Obama, I wish McCain and the MSM would go after him a lot more. Not personally, but things that reflect on his view of America. Still not enough pressure to answer questions about Ayers, Raines, Rezko, “spread the wealth around,” etc.

I have a short political memory to draw on as I was 9 in '88, so I don’t really remember Willie Horton first hand. I think all political campaigns are vicious in the moment, but this won’t seem as bad after the fact and we put some distance from it.

Especially forged documents which were truthful. Those are the worst kind. The secretary said I did not write that letter but I wrote one like it.

What Rove and his pals did to McCain in 2000 was criminal. Swift boated him as badly as they did Kerry. They have no low limit.

In that case…

I would like to nominate 1928 as being a rather horrendous campaign in certain parts of the United States, 1936 was fairly ugly and, in some ways, symbolizes a streak in politics of the late 1930s/early 1940s that’s rather familiar to politics now, 1964 opened a door that can’t be sealed back up, and certain campaigns either by specific candidates (Wallace 1968) or against them (the anti-Socialist campaigns of 1920) are fairly rank.

Cindy McCain is a drug addict who stole from charity to support her habit, and I’ve heard very little about that this election season. That’s as it should be, IMO, but I heard *waaaaaaaaaay *more about whether Michelle Obama is “really proud of America”. And I’m just sayin’… when you start raising questions about the other guy’s “associations”, you should maybe glance over your shoulder at the person you married.

The first election I really remember was 1988, and every election since then I’ve heard that this one was the “worst one ever” as far as negative ads.

People hate negative ads in the abstract, but get one that works like Willie Horton, or Clinton saying that Dole wanted to feed old people dog food, or that crazy flip-flop ad with John Kerry’s white legs showing on his sailboat, people react. People have emotions and negatives spread better than positives.

Do you think a rich and powerful family like the Bushs actually have to work for degrees. ? Ever here of gentlemens Cs. What school would risk pissing off the powerful families when they want endowments ,speakers and the prestige of having their schools associated with the big shots. Bush sounds like a stumble bum for a good reason.

You don’t think it was unfair for Palin to say that Obama is “palling around with terrorists”, even though the article she cited for that claim actually said “the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8’”? You wouldn’t call that an unfair characterization of Obama’s actions?

You don’t think it’s unfair for conservatives to accuse Obama of covering up his alleged “Muslim past”?

You don’t think the whole Swiftboat thing in 2004 was unfair to John Kerry?

In short, you don’t seem to think that lying about political candidates counts as “unfairness”, as long as the candidates are Democrats.

The Bush/Kerry election was pretty nasty. I’m not sure that this one has risen to that level of nastiness, though admittedly it’s going to be pretty subjective. I guess it depends on where you cut off ‘modern times’ though. Some of the elections in our early history were VERY nasty…making this contest or even the Bush/Kerry contest seem almost cordial…


Especially the ones from members of her own party, eh?
Christopher Buckley, conservative Republican columnist:

Kathleen Parker, conservative Republican columnist:

David Frum, conservative Republican columnist: