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02 November 2008

Was this election cycle dirtier or worse than in 2004? [More:]I thought that the 2004 election was pretty brutal as far as attacks and mudslinging were concerned. During that election, I paid a lot of attention to what was going on and was reading everything I could concerning the candidates and where they stood on the issues, the scandals, the accusations and what not. I was reading blogs and articles on both sides, and generally kept myself well informed.

After Kerry lost, I was completely disappointed in American politics. With all the crap that happened with the Bush administration between the last election and now, I would get so angry that I had to ignore it. This was much better for my blood pressure.

This time around, I didn't really pay as much attention as I did for the 2004 election, but I have the feeling it was less dirty. Or maybe it was that less of the mudslinging from the Republican side stuck (due perhaps to Rove's absence?) and Obama, compared to Kerry, really fought back.

I live in Germany so I really only get my news from the Internet, from articles and news clips. I don't have any Americans here with whom I can discuss US politics.

So, was it less brutal this time around or have I just sufficiently shielded myself from it?
My sense is that it's been less obviously dirty from the candidates themselves, but uglier from the voters. No one was calling for John Kerry's assassination or implying that he hated America -- IIRC, not even the smears against his service and subsequent Vietnam protests went that far.

It's fair to say that the candidates allowed and even encouraged that ugliness, so on the whole I'd say things coming from the campaigns are about as they were or maybe a touch better, but the voters are uglier this go-round.
posted by middleclasstool 02 November | 12:52
I think McCain has run a desperately negative campaign recently, but I don't think it's been as smear-y as the Swift Boat stuff was. There also seem to be fewer 527s involved this time; they did a lot of roiling of the water last time. Plus, Rove's out of the picture (I think?), and that's always a good thing.

My sense is that it's been less obviously dirty from the candidates themselves, but uglier from the voters.

I'd agree with that. I think that's the main difference.

As for the ugliness in the voters, I don't think that in 2004 there was any real sense that Kerry was going to be a whole hell of a lot different from Bush. People who were on Kerry's side were more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry. This time around, people who are voting for Obama are capital-p Pro-Obama. (I tend to think that McCain voters are generally more anti-Obama than pro-McCain, but my own bias could definitely factor into that perception.) In any case, I think the desire for a genuine change that many of us have -- and the promise of it -- is fueling the fire on both sides of the electorate.
posted by mudpuppie 02 November | 13:25
Repeated charges of terrorism make this cycle -- and McCain's savagery -- unique. The racist stuff -- gross as it is -- could be expected for a party whose base is white and lives in the former Confederacy, in Texas, Utah, Idaho, etc. The charges of terrorism make it different from anything else. The Swift Boat Vets lied about Kerry's service, his wounds, etc; they didn't say he was a Russian spy.
posted by matteo 02 November | 13:26
I had a dream last night that I went back to the US for a visit after Obama had won and there were huge posters of him all over the place as if a personality cult had taken over. That is the one thing that kind of irks me. People are so desperate for change, and his image and likeness are all over the online media I consume, that he is becoming a sort of subconscious national messiah. This must make the pressure on him almost unbearable. He got my vote but I know that taking over the presidency is going to be a super bitch of a job for anybody, no matter who it is.
posted by chillmost 02 November | 13:39
...there were huge posters of him all over the place as if a personality cult had taken over.

In SF and Berkeley, there already are. Ain't no dream.
posted by mudpuppie 02 November | 13:47
I was going to start a new election thread, but will put this in here instead. I was watching King of the Hill last night and it occurred to me that John McCain is the spitting image of Cotton Hill.

I'm not the only one who thinks so.

And, of course, Cotton Hill has his own Sarah Palin too.
posted by essexjan 02 November | 14:30
It's much dirtier, more undignified, and far uglier, mostly because of "rogue" factions who have been empowered by their "rogue" leader, if you want to call them that. People taking it upon themselves to spread misinformation, Joe the unlicensed guy who did some plumbing, confused people with question marked voices asserting Obama is Arab and hates Israel, which is a quandary for those anti-Semetic types--
--and horror of horrors, obligating candidates to the talk show circuit.

No one should have to go on The View.
posted by ethylene 02 November | 14:40
Yeah, I think it's a lot dirtier, more polarized, more reliant on misinformation and fear and emotional reactions. McCain/Palin's campaign is basically appealing to the reptile brain, y'know?
posted by box 02 November | 15:09
Last night i was surprised even for this campaign, which has had me wondering "is this real?" i don't know how many time:
An ad attacking Obama for his previous church preacher and what influence this would have.

That's some scary unmitigated gall from a party who has someone running who has been "blessed against witchcraft" and "demons."
posted by ethylene 02 November | 15:16
No one should have to go on The View.

No one should have to watch it, either.
posted by middleclasstool 02 November | 20:07
That goes without saying.
posted by ethylene 02 November | 22:03

It's not over yet and I suspect that it will make 2004 look like an exercise in naivete.
posted by Frisbee Girl 02 November | 23:06
Obama has been unbelievably restrained. I can't believe he didn't start shouting "Keating 5" in the debates every time the economy was mentioned. There's been some new sleaze on teevee in Maine about Rev. Wright. Have we talked about McCain being a pal of G Gordon Liddy? Joe isn't the only plumber he likes. Obama's calm focus on the direction he thinks we should follow is impressive.

All I can do is hope that there's not a repeat of 2000. I don't trust the election process anymore.
posted by theora55 03 November | 17:27
Cat in a box. || This is a frugal food thread: