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Why 2012 Is So Nasty And Likely to Get Nastier

Dan Balz summarizes what has been “A most poisonous campaign” and is likely to get much worse before it gets over.

No one expected Campaign 2012 to be positive or uplifting. The country’s problems are too severe and the battle lines between Republicans and Democrats have been hardened by almost four years of conflict between the White House and Congress.

But what is most striking about the campaign at this point is not just the negativity or the sheer volume of attack ads raining down on voters in the swing states. It is the sense that all restraints are gone, the guardrails have disappeared and there is no incentive for anyone to hold back. The other guy does it, so we’re going to do it too.

[…]

Vice President Biden triggered the latest round Tuesday with lines, that, had they been uttered by a Republican, likely would have set off an even bigger firestorm. Biden told an audience in Virginia that Romney would “unchain” the big banks if he were elected president and then added, “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

Biden later tried to temper his language, but the damage was done. Within hours, Romney unloaded on the president. Campaigning in Ohio, he said Obama’s “angry and desperate” campaign had brought disrespect to the office of the presidency. “Mr. President,” he added, “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.”

[…]

Mock outrage has long been a part of every campaign’s toolkit, but there is a sense now that the outrage is genuine, that the disrespect that the Chicago and Boston teams now feel for one another has escalated and becomes the justification for ever harsher attacks.

Neither side has had to look far to find an excuse to launch an attack or cry foul. Obama’s allies took the campaign over the edge last week and the Obama campaign did nothing to stop it. The most egregious example of a campaign out of bounds was the ad prepared by Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting Obama.

The ad tied Romney to the cancer death of the wife of Joe Soptic, who lost his health insurance and his job when a steel company that Bain Capital had taken over while Romney was at the company later went bankrupt, after Romney left Bain.

The Obama campaign also has refused to denounce Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) for making the unsubstantiated accusation that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years. He claimed that a Bain investor told him that, but he refused to identify the person or retract the claim when Romney denied the charge.

Mention the Soptic ad to the Obama team and instead of showing any remorse or regret, they point to the ad Romney aired that accuses Obama of gutting the work requirement in the welfare reform act that was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1996.

The changes were in response to requests from some governors, including Republicans, who wanted more flexibility. Administration officials say they are not letting states off the hook on the work requirement and Clinton denounced the ad as a false charge. A leading Republican welfare reform expert has said it is “implausible” to believe Obama is trying to keep more people on welfare. Fact-checking outlets have declared the ad erroneous. Romney’s campaign has doubled down rather than walk away.

The incentives simply push things further in this direction. The most insane and unhinged attacks gain currency no matter how thoroughly and frequently they’re debunked. An absurd number of Americans believe simultaneously that Barack Obama is a fervent adherent to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and a closet Muslim.

Biden’s ”They’re going to put y’all back in chains” line was, well, classic Biden. Having heard the clip for the first time this morning on MBNBC’s “Morning Joe,” my sense was that he was just going off script and riffing off of the previous line about Romney wanting to “unchain Wall Street” and saying something absurdly unfortunate. But, given some of Biden’s other hyperbolic rhetoric against Romney’s policy proposals and a disproportionately black audience, one could certainly take it as a slavery reference. Especially after the campaign’s inexplicable early refusal to do what it’s done dozens of times by now with Biden remarks and walk them back.

The distancing of the advertising campaigns from the candidates themselves has also made the ads somewhat more absurd than they might otherwise have been had Obama or Romney been forced to “endorse this message.” It’s going to be hard for Romney backers to top the despicable Sopic ad but it wouldn’t actually shock me at this point were it to happen. As Balz notes, each transgression has been used as an excuse to up the ante.

One of the bemusing facts of political campaigns is that members of the losing side invariably complain that their team fought with honor, refusing to sink to the depths of the other side, and that they’ll always be at a disadvantage because of that superior moral fiber. It’s going to be really hard for anyone to make that claim this cycle, but it’ll happen nonetheless.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dan Nexon says:

    How is this stuff worse than any recent election? Not seeing it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  2. wr says:

    And here I thought allowing billionaires to donate unlimited amounts of money into campaigns was going to turn our elections into glorious marketplaces of ideas. That’s what the Scalia and company told us.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 69 Thumb down 6

  3. Brett says:

    @James Joyner

    It’s going to be hard for Romney backers to top the despicable Sopic ad but it wouldn’t actually shock me at this point were it to happen.

    The main problem with the Sopic ad was that it wasn’t true. But if it had been true, then there’s nothing despicable about it. Campaign ads should be vicious if true, and I’d trade vicious, honest politics for a more polite, dishonest politics any day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  4. John Cole says:

    The Obama campaign also has refused to denounce Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) for making the unsubstantiated accusation that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years. He claimed that a Bain investor told him that, but he refused to identify the person or retract the claim when Romney denied the charge.

    If only there was an easy way for the Romney campaign to prove these claims are unsubstantiated.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 106 Thumb down 5

  5. Nikki says:

    I was going to accuse both you and Doug of taking orders on high to write posts about how nasty the campaign has become. I considered this before I read your post. Then I read it.

    Both you and Doug have to be taking orders from on high since both of you–supposedly writing about how nasty the campaign has become–wrote both of your posts decrying the Obama campaign nastiness. And yet, both of you failed to mention the TWO Romney campaign ads lying about Obama doing away with work-to-welfare by executive order; the $716 billion Medicare lie; the military votes lie in Ohio. Need I go on?

    You should really be ashamed of yourself.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 78 Thumb down 5

  6. @Nikki:

    I can’t speak for James, but the point of my post had nothing to do with policy issues and everything to do with the increasingly poisonous and personal rhetoric we’re seeing on the campaign trial.

    I’ve already written about the welfare issue.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 40

  7. grumpy realist says:

    The other problem is–in spite of all of the platitudes of “taking the high road”–there’s a very good reason why political attacks on the other side are so negative:

    They work.

    If the American populace didn’t award negative campaigning by voting for the people who do it, negative campaigning wouldn’t happen.

    We really do get the politicians we deserve.

    (Me, if Romney/Ryan get elected, I’m emigrating. Mainly because I don’t see how science and technology will continue to develop in the US.)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 5

  8. David M says:

    Romney considers evaluating his proposals and record as negative campaigning, so hopefully he’ll be unhappy with the way the rest of the campaign season goes.

    And I’m really not sure this season is that dirty or personal, unless we’ve somehow passed “palling around with terrorists”.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 1

  9. Nikki says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, Doug, and yet your post only mentions Obama campaign nastiness. Not a bit about the lies and nastiness coming from the Romney campaign. Now, why, oh why, would you BOTH write such similar posts, Doug and James?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 63 Thumb down 3

  10. Moosebreath says:

    @David M:

    “And I’m really not sure this season is that dirty or personal, unless we’ve somehow passed “palling around with terrorists”.”

    Or the purple heart band-aids. Or having Max Cleland’s face morph into Osama bin Laden’s.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 71 Thumb down 2

  11. @John Cole:
    “If only there was an easy way for the Romney campaign to prove these claims are unsubstantiated.”

    So now we are free to accuse people of anything we want, with no evidence at all proffered in support, and the burden of proof automatically falls on the accused to show innocence? Very well: I have been told that you spend your evenings on toll-free phone porn numbers. I won’t reveal who told me that or when.

    So release your phone records. Unless you prove you don’t make those calls, then you are admitting you do.

    That’s exactly where Reid has put this campaign. On purpose.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 79

  12. C. Clavin says:

    Or the Rove nonsense about McCain’s illegitimate kid.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 1

  13. “Biden’s ”They’re going to put y’all back in chains” line was, well, classic Biden.”

    He gets a pass because, aw shucks, that just how Biden is. And that is exactly the problem.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 36

  14. al-Ameda says:

    it’s going to be nasty because American Politics, and the American Voters, are currently cesspool-ridden septic swamps.

    I hope that Obama takes some lessons from Bill Clinton and doesn’t lay back and take the Republican attacks unanswered. As we saw today here on OTB, a Seal Team has launched a GOP proxy Swift Boat like attack on Obama – well here we go again.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 4

  15. C. Clavin says:

    “…I have been told that you spend your evenings on toll-free phone porn numbers…”

    Jesus-gawd man…haven’t you heard of internet porn?
    You must be a Republican…still living in the 80’s, and wishing it was the 50’s.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 48 Thumb down 2

  16. john personna says:

    @David M: THIS!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    He gets a pass because, aw shucks, that just how Biden is. And that is exactly the problem.

    Except that … he didn’t get a pass. Even the reality-based ‘lame stream media’ has reported the response to Biden’s remarks (google it … you’ll see).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

  18. C. Clavin says:

    He gets a pass because, aw shucks, it would be stupid not to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  19. David M says:

    @Donald Sensing: Ryan wants to unshackle wall street, so I have trouble getting all worked up over Biden saying anything similar.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 3

  20. PD Shaw says:

    @John Cole: I read somewhere that you spend your evenings on toll-free phone porn numbers, and you’ve refused to address this issue.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 41

  21. john personna says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    This one of the known, named, logical fallacies. On my phone so I can’t look it up.

    Anyway, extending something … ad absurdum? … does not acctually undermine the original.

    That Mitt legally paid no (or essentially no) tax is legal and possible.

    It is not “insert some random and offensive charge here.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

  22. john personna says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Epic Fail as I was slow typing the above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. C. Clavin says:

    An African-American on the “chains” remark…

    “…I wondered why they were so upset. Black people certainly were not. If Republicans really want to know how to help black people, then end the war on drugs, because that really is a war against our own people. Changing those policies will start to free “the chains.” Instead, these and other biased policies supported by the Republican Party disempower blacks and all other minorities in various ways. Without healthcare, quality education, equal rights for women and gays and a just tax code (that raises my taxes!), under-served communities will be hit the hardest by the election of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan…”

    He failed to mention Voter Supression…a civil rights travesty for which the Republican Party should be truly ashamed.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 3

  24. David M says:

    @Donald Sensing:
    Releasing two years of tax returns is completely unacceptable, and is a damaging precedent to set, so Romney deserves all this speculation if not more.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 2

  25. Jeremy R says:

    The distancing of the advertising campaigns from the candidates themselves has also made the ads somewhat more absurd than they might otherwise have been had Obama or Romney been forced to “endorse this message.”

    The two “welfare work requirement” ads, the “war on religion” ad, and BS “Obama stole $700 billion from the Medicare trust fund” ad aren’t superPAC ads. They’re first part — Romney owns them completely — which is also why they’re all a standard part of his stump.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 1

  26. Jeremy R says:

    @Jeremy R:

    first part

    First party even.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. MBunge says:

    Maybe I’m just some clueless cracker, but I don’t really get why the Biden line is considered so outrageous. Where is this list of what is and is not allowable to say to black folks on the campaign trail? Every other white person commenting on this seems to have a copy. Where did you get yours, James?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  28. PD Shaw says:

    @john personna: The fallacy you are looking for is called the burden of proof fallacy. It has John Cole’s picture next to it.

    The other fallacy is called “false dillama.” You’ve just agreed that the Obama administration did this when it accused Romney of either being a felon or a liar.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 37

  29. Jeremy R says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    @Nikki:

    I can’t speak for James, but the point of my post had nothing to do with policy issues and everything to do with the increasingly poisonous and personal rhetoric we’re seeing on the campaign trial.

    The Romney welfare work requirement broadside has nothing to do with policy issues either — besides it being a total lie, it’s entirely about tapping in to long standing, already well developed, GOP base resentments about taxpayer money going to the “wrong sort” of people (“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work or wouldn’t have to train for a job, they would just send you your welfare check”).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

  30. C. Clavin says:

    Sarah “the quitter” Palin is firing up on the “chains” remark…
    She wants Obama to replace Biden with Hilary.
    Talk about being careful about what you wish for.
    I mean…I don’t expect, or even want, it to happen. I like Biden…and this “chains” crap is just that…crap…like the morning after Kielbasa, cabbage, and beer.
    But if it did…I have to think the impact to this race would be devastating for the Republicans chances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  31. @PD Shaw:

    Perhaps, if conservatives had kept their self-control, and only said of Reid’s claim “hot air” or “no reason to believe it,” you would have a point. But they didn’t, did they? You didn’t. We’ve seen a raft of ugly supposed parallels which are not parallels at all. We have a tax code. We know it allows people who make millions to pay no tax.

    Now on the “felony” thing it turns out you aren’t honest either. The sentence was:

    Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter laid out the issue as the Obama team sees it: “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony.”

    “Or,” she said, “he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments,” including layoffs and the outsourcing of jobs.

    Can you parse the “either” and “or” there?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 1

  32. It is really funny how partisans will toe the line on things like “Mitt was CEO but totally disconnected.”

    … because drum roll …

    He left retroactively.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  33. PD Shaw says:

    @PD Shaw: “You’ve just agreed that the Obama administration did this when it accused Romney of either being a felon or a liar.”

    I take that back. John Personna argued that it was possible for Romney to have legally paid no taxes. The false dilemma the Obama administration is playing is between Romney lying about when he retired and being a felon, which is a different issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  34. @PD Shaw:

    We now know that the retirement agreement was retroactive.

    The party line is that the retroactive agreement removes any moral responsibility from a serving CEO. Actually not just CEO. It’s fun to put in the full list: chairman, CEO, and president

    See also:

    Sorry, Mitt Romney, You Can’t Be Chairman, CEO, And President Of A Company And Not Be Responsible For What It Does…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  35. PD Shaw says:

    The false dillema fallacy is that it is not inconsistent for Romney to have left Bain when he said he did and having not violated the law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  36. Moderate Mom says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I heard he has a rather “close” relationship (wink wink) with his dog. He writes about it on his blog all the time, talking about them together in bed and “spooning”. Perhaps he should provide proof that he’s not sexually molesting his puppy, since common decency no longer seems to apply.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 40

  37. Mr. Replica says:

    Ann Romney said in an interview airing Wednesday that her husband has no plans to release additional tax returns, saying “it’ll just give them more ammunition” and insisting that “there’s nothing we’re hiding.”

    “We have been very transparent to what’s legally required of us. But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questioned, the more we get pushed. And so we have done what’s legally required and there’s going to be no more, there’s going to be no more tax releases given,” she said in the interview by NBC News. “And there’s a reason for that, and that’s because of how, what happens as soon as we release anything.”

    ….

    She also said that the couple has had a blind trust since 2002 before Romney was governor and that they don’t know what’s in it.

    “There’s nothing we’re hiding,” she said, later adding: “I’ll be curious to see what’s in there too.”

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79757.html#ixzz23eNGMHWX

    Nothing illegal, but admits she doesn’t actually know what is in them, but won’t release them cause they are not politically convenient for them.

    Boo-f*cking-hoo.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  38. Stonetools says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I’m afraid there is no such fallacy because while in a court of law, the defense may be entitled to the presumption of innocence and the benefit of the burden of proof , in the ” court of public opinion ” the accused has no such right.
    Fairly or unfairly, in the court of public opinion, Mr. Romney has the burden of persuading us that he is a honorable man who is fit to serve as President. Hiding his tax returns and then insisting that we trust him as to their content is not persuasive., no matter what his rights may be in a court of law.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 3

  39. @PD Shaw:

    You seem to have some knowledge of the law. Would you stand up and say to a court “I had nothing to do with it, I just signed the legal documents”?

    You know that “left Bain when he said he did” has two meanings for Mitt, before and after the retroactive meaning.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  40. “before and after the retroactive [agreement]”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @ Moderate Mom…
    Well if the accepted practice is that every candidate provide proof that they have not molested a dog for several years…then yes…you are correct…he should.
    I believe George Romney provided twelve years of proof that he was not molesting his dog.
    His son should live up to his fathers example…unless of course he can’t.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  42. wr says:

    @Moderate Mom: Gosh, Moderate Mom. That sure is a serious accusation. I guess I won’t be voting for John Cole for president.

    Now maybe you could explain why Romney won’t do what every other candidate has done for decades?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  43. Nikki says:

    @john personna: But, john, you forgot “owner and sole shareholder.” It’s “President, CEO, Chairman, Owner and Sole Shareholder.” But he had absolutely nothing to do with the “day-to-day” decision-making.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  44. al-Ameda says:

    @C. Clavin:
    @Moderate Mom:

    I believe George Romney provided twelve years of proof that he was not molesting his dog.

    More importantly: I’m not sure that George Romney ever provided proof that he was born in Mexico – surprisingly, there was no Partida de Nacimiento Movement. Maybe it would have happened if he was the GOP nominee?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  45. Nikki says:

    Romney requested several years of tax returns from his VP candidates (though none will say how many), yet he and Ryan believe the American people deserve less. That’s how much contempt they have for the serfs.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

  46. john personna says:

    @Nikki:

    I thought there were 4!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  47. John Cole says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    So now we are free to accuse people of anything we want, with no evidence at all proffered in support, and the burden of proof automatically falls on the accused to show innocence?

    You mean like someone being a Kenyan Muslim socialist terrorist sympathizer who hates America and pals around with terrorist and is secretly trying to install Sharia law?

    Romney’s taxes are a completely legitimate issue, unlike the heap of garbage that has been spewed by the right for the past few years. People like Donald Douglas, the Ace of Spades, the Gateway Pundit, Michelle Malkin, Tom Maguire, the Corner, the ridiculously named staff at the American Thinker, and so forth. Those names should be familiar to you- they are all on your blogroll.

    So spare me the trip the fainting couches, you delicate flower.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 82 Thumb down 3

  48. jukeboxgrad says:

    shaw:

    I read somewhere that you spend your evenings on toll-free phone porn numbers, and you’ve refused to address this issue.

    sensing:

    So release your phone records. Unless you prove you don’t make those calls, then you are admitting you do.

    mom:

    Perhaps he should provide proof that he’s not sexually molesting his puppy

    This analogy keeps coming up, even though it’s bogus. Here’s one reason: there’s a big difference between proving a positive and proving a negative. I explained other reasons here. Scroll down and see what I said to George.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  49. jukeboxgrad says:

    shaw:

    The false dillema fallacy is that it is not inconsistent for Romney to have left Bain when he said he did and having not violated the law.

    The problem is that “left Bain when he said he did” involved giving the federal government two different, contradictory answers to the same question. That means he committed a felony. Maybe more than one. Proof. I’ve been trying to find someone who can explain away that proof. So far, no dice. Maybe you’re the one?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  50. @C. Clavin:
    Re: “An African-American on the “chains” remark…”

    I agree that the “war on drugs” long ago turned into bureaucratic budget justification drills more than anything else, but then, so do all federal programs. While I am sympathetic to the point of view the writer expresses, does he mean to say that the devastation of narcotics and other presently-illegal drugs have caused in black communities has been simply because they were illegal? And that if the law-enforcement measures against drugs stopped, black men and women would stop using them?

    Drug use is the prior problem for which the WOD has proved to be a very poor and often counter-productive response. But the WOD is not the main problem and it came long after the dissolution of coherent black families and their communities had begun. It’s far from compelling to say that doing nothing is the answer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  51. jukeboxgrad says:

    This thread contains lots of good examples of Mitt’s nastiness, but I think one of the most important examples hasn’t been mentioned.

    Birtherism is about accusing the president of doing something tantamount to treason. It’s about our government being infitrated, at the highest level, by a foreigner, someone who is lying to us about their citizenship and thereby subverting the constitution. This is a very serious accusation, but it didn’t stop Mitt from leaping into bed with Trump, perhaps the most famous birther. We never heard Mitt denounce Trump’s birtherism, and Mitt’s enthusiastic embrace of Trump was a tacit endorsement of birtherism.

    After doing that, I don’t see how Mitt is in any position to whine about unfair attacks.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 2

  52. Nikki says:

    @john personna: Everyone always forgets Owner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  53. Nikki says:

    @Donald Sensing: Yeah, it’s just black people doing illegal drugs that is causing the problems in the black community. The police and an unequal justice system are just doing their jobs.

    Yes, we know you are a Christian by your love.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  54. Tsar Nicholas says:

    If you think this is nasty just wait until October, especially if Obama’s internal polling shows that the clock is about to strike midnight.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 17

  55. sam says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    On the other hand, Nick, it might get more heated on your side of the divide because of the ever-loosening bowels of GOP congressional delegation, as evidenced by Boehner tries to calm House GOP. (They’re scared witless out there in Real Murican Land, though with that low-wattage crowd, a mild ‘Boo’ could do the trick.) The GOP plan, keep on lying:

    …Republicans say they have settled on a blueprint for fighting back – hitting President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats for supporting a health care bill that they insist included cuts to Medicare. It was an approach that proved successful in a September 2011 special House election in Nevada.

    “We want this fight not just because Obamacare raided Medicare by $700 billion, but also because Republicans are the only ones who’ve taken action to save the program,” Boehner told members on the call. “Remember — if we’re going to solve the debt that is acting like a wet blanket on our economy, we have to save Medicare, and reform our Tax Code. Republicans are the only ones taking action on these things.”

    No wonder the Democrats think a rhetorical stake needs to be driven through the corrupt heart to the Romney campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  56. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    ” the increasingly poisonous and personal rhetoric we’re seeing on the campaign trial.”

    When Rachel Maddow demands to see Romney’s birth certificate, we can talk about how “increasingly poisonous” the personal rhetoric has become.

    When Matt Yglesias writes a book called Conservative Communism we can talk about “increasingly poisonous.”

    But we’re not going to do it a few months after Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke attacks, with Donald Trump going to the GOP convention, and Americans for Prosperity spending more money than any other PAC in the race. Sorry.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 2

  57. Woody says:

    @sam:

    Actually, sam, the figurehead Speaker was reciting modern conservative theology: only by completely destroying the economy, Medicare, and the Tax Code can the GOP save America.

    If Madison ever saw what was going on concerning his Constitution, he’d never stop throwing up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  58. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    So now we are free to accuse people of anything we want, with no evidence at all proffered in support, and the burden of proof automatically falls on the accused to show innocence?

    Yes, this is absolutely correct. The burden of proof in the court of public opinion has always fallen upon the accused. It’s simply the way our society works. Feel free to decry it all you like.

    Very well: I have been told that you spend your evenings on toll-free phone porn numbers. I won’t reveal who told me that or when.

    Go right ahead and say whatever you like. Nobody cares. See, here’s the thing: these types of attacks only work when there exists corroborating evidence to support them. That’s what fuels suspicion in people’s minds; not the accusation itself, but the fact that the accusation conforms to our per-existing view of a person.

    You guys will figure this stuff out sooner or later. In the meantime, I have to agree with John Cole – Romney could defuse this quickly but won’t, because to do so would be more toxic to him than the current denials. But the denials are toxic as well! I love it. He’s screwed either way, Obama is going to beat him mightily about the head and neck with the secrecy issue, and Mitt will flounder in response to it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  59. James Joyner says:

    @Herb: But we’ve repeatedly called out the Birthers and Limbaugh, including for the Fluke attack. Certainly, we share the consensus view that Trump is a buffoon and that the GOP would be better off steering clear of him. Why is it that we can’t talk about the horrible tenor of the campaign, which is so bad at this point that almost all of the political reporters and analysts who’ve been in the game for a while say it’s as ugly as they’ve ever seen?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 27

  60. al-Ameda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    If you think this is nasty just wait until October, especially if Obama’s internal polling shows that the clock is about to strike midnight.

    I agree, Obama better strike out and strike back hard and with great regularity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  61. bk says:

    What a bunch of crap. Obama talks about his record; Romney wants his to be off limits, and lies about Obama’s. I am not sure how you come up with a “both sides do it” equivalence here – but you have. Kudos.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

  62. jukeboxgrad says:

    james:

    Trump is a buffoon and … the GOP would be better off steering clear of him

    The GOP would be better off if people like you steered clear of candidates (like Mitt) who refused to steer clear of him.

    all of the political reporters and analysts who’ve been in the game for a while say it’s as ugly as they’ve ever seen

    I guess they just woke up from a long nap.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

  63. bk says:

    @Donald Sensing: I never knew until I saw your post that only black people did drugs. As they say, “you learn something every day”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  64. John Cole says:

    This can not be said enough- Barack Obama was hounded relentlessly by people on the right to, for the first time in history, provide a birth certificate to prove he is American. He did, and many on the right still don’t believe it.

    Mitt Romney is simply being asked to release a couple years of tax records, like EVERY OTHER Presidential and VP candidate has done in the last few decades, he won’t and we are told this is ugly politics. Has he even released one years worth of FULL returns. Unless I am wrong, I think he has, to date, only released partial returns.

    But, you know- BOTH SIDES DO IT.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 65 Thumb down 3

  65. bk says:

    @James Joyner:

    almost all of the political reporters and analysts who’ve been in the game for a while say it’s as ugly as they’ve ever seen?

    Let me fix that for you. “Most of the political reporters and analysts who’ve been in the game for a while say that they have never seen any Presidential candidate lie with such impunity as Romney does.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  66. Herb says:

    @James Joyner:

    “But we’ve repeatedly called out the Birthers and Limbaugh, including for the Fluke attack. “

    Yes…..the OTB crew has been admirably consistent on that. You should be commended. You should also know that the Republican Party and it’s representatives do not share your even keel on this.

    Why is it that we can’t talk about the horrible tenor of the campaign, which is so bad at this point that almost all of the political reporters and analysts who’ve been in the game for a while say it’s as ugly as they’ve ever seen?

    Oh, I guess we could talk about it. But the only intelligent thing to say is that the tenor is so ugly because the Republicans are doing what they always do……

    And the Democrat’s are doing it now too.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 3

  67. jukeboxgrad says:

    I think he has, to date, only released partial returns.

    Even that is an overstatement, because of the plural. He has released one incomplete return, for 2010. He has released an “estimate” for 2011, and supposedly intends to release the return before the election. I guess that means on 11/5 at 11:59 pm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  68. Cycloptichorn says:

    @James Joyner:

    How about, instead of calling out Birthers, or Limbaugh, or Trump, you call out Romney himself for his egregious and repeated lies? That would probably do the trick.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 2

  69. bk says:

    @Herb:

    And the Democrat’s are doing it now too

    Where? Please give some examples.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  70. Wasn’t Mitt’s claim that Obama “apologized for America” a good one and an early one?

    I think we missed that.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  71. Herb says:

    @bk:

    “Please give some examples.”

    Harry Reid and the Mitt Romney tax return allegations.

    Obama mentioning Romney’s dog Seamus.

    Even that ad that had Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful,” which I believe was official Obama campaign stuff, not Super-PAC Priorities USA stuff.

    It has not been a clean campaign at all. Nor should it be. Stakes are high.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 17

  72. bk says:

    @Herb:

    Obama mentioning Romney’s dog Seamus.

    Ooooooooooooo. Call the wahhhhhhhhhhmbulance. Chicago-style. Are you for real??? That’s nasty?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

  73. PGlenn says:

    @Herb: said, “Stakes are high.” If so, what is it that you believe Obama has planned for his second term? Or do you mean that only in the negative sense of Romney would be dangerous/terrible/etc., but a second Obama term doesn’t really entail any important deviations from the 2008 – 2012 status-quo?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  74. bk says:

    @Herb: I would really like to know if you really believe that Obama mentioning the TRUE story of Seamus is the equivalent of all of the lies that permeate almost EVERY SINGLE STATEMENT that comes out of the Romeny campaign. Seriously.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  75. An Interested Party says:

    Was the 2004 presidential campaign really nasty? You know, Swift Boat Bull$hiters and Purple Heart Band-Aids…or is a presidential campaign only really nasty when Democrats join Republicans down in the mud…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  76. Herb says:

    @bk: “Ooooooooooooo. Call the wahhhhhhhhhhmbulance.”

    Calm down. I’m an Obama supporter and I’m not scandalized by Obama mentioning Seamus. But the Seamus thing is not relevant to Romney’s views or governing philosophy. It’s merely embarrassing.

    @PGlenn:

    ” If so, what is it that you believe Obama has planned for his second term?”

    I dunno…. Back me into a corner, and I’d say Obama has the potential to change how we think of a “lame duck presidency.” He could be the first president in the modern era who accomplishes more in his second term than in his first.

    The Republicans need to spend a little more time in the wilderness.

    @bk: ” I would really like to know if you really believe that Obama mentioning the TRUE story of Seamus is the equivalent of all of the lies that permeate almost EVERY SINGLE STATEMENT that comes out of the Romeny campaign. ”

    Equivalent? Never said that. BK wanted examples of low blows from Obama. I provided a few.

    If he had asked for some from Romney, the constant lies would have gotten a mention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  77. jukeboxgrad says:

    the Seamus thing is not relevant to Romney’s views or governing philosophy

    The Seamus story is about character. You can learn a lot about a person by watching the way they treat beings smaller and weaker than them: animals, poor people, hired hands etc. This story gets attention because it’s part of a mountain of evidence that Mitt is a narcissist/sociopath with no capacity for remorse or empathy. Likewise for the story of John Lauber.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  78. Moosebreath says:

    Discussions about how nasty this campaign is remind me greatly of the old saw that class warfare only exists in the minds of some people when the lower classes fight back. So long as only the Republicans are lying through their teeth and reaching new lows in character assassination it’s business as usual. When the Democrats do it, it’s cause for alarm.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

  79. jukeboxgrad says:

    Dana Milbank:

    What’s different this time is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success. They have ceased their traditional response of assuming the fetal position when attacked, and Obama’s campaign is giving as good as it gets — and then some. … Eight years ago, Cutter was a staffer on the Kerry campaign when the candidate was undone by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on his war record. Cutter, like other Democrats, learned a hard truth back then: Umbrage doesn’t win elections. Ruthlessness does.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

  80. John Cole says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Exactly- all these people rushing to the fainting couches with the vapors, begging for smelling salts, would have a little bit more credibility if they had done anything to rein in the disgusting excesses of the GOP the past few decades. Here’s an oldie but goodie:

    “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

    And in 2008, you talk about Jeremiah Wright (a decorated Marine veteran whose “God Damn America” sermon was completely taken out of context and every discussion completely ignored the scriptural basis of the polemic), Bill Ayers, palling around with terrorists, and birtherism.

    There is a deep rot staining the soul of America right now, and that rot is the neo-confederate GOP. Some of us had enough and by 2006 said to hell with the Republican party and their lies, deceit, mendacity, racism, overt hatred of the poor, their desire to install a basically fascist state, and, oh yeah, the gay-bashing, all of which is done in the service of beating down the rest of the country into subservience of the religious right and the Galtian overlords of the top 1%.

    Others sit around, fanning themselves to keep from fainting, bemoaning the “new” ugly tone of American politics. Queue Doug Mataconis writing a post about the rhetorical excesses of Alan Grayson while ignoring the entirety of mainstream conservative beliefs.

    I’m increasingly of the belief that no matter how much I like James Joyner and Doug Mataconis as people, were they around in the civil rights era, they would write posts that say “Sure, Orval Faubus was wrong to oppose the desegregation of those Little Rock schools, but in fairness, let’s acknowledge that Martin Luther King, Jr. was wrong for blocking traffic in all those marches. Not to mention, think of the costs of those fire hoses and the feeding of those German Shepherds. See- BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME!”

    And I know I am harsh on Doug and James, but I will say this is probably one of my favorite blogs (besides my own).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 49 Thumb down 4

  81. John Cole says:

    Hey- let’s not forget all the members of the Republican National Convention wearing purple heart stickers to mock Kerry, or, my personal favorite, Michelle Malkin suggesting Kerry shot himself. Or wingnuts who today are telling us RMoney need not release his tax returns screaming about Kerry’s wife’s tax returns.

    Yeah. This new ugly tone is really deplorable.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 50 Thumb down 0

  82. bk says:

    Bottom line: When one side lies 95% of the time, and the other side points out those lies with facts, BOTH SIDES AREN’T BEING “NASTY”. So bullshit, Doug and James.

    Oh, and bullshit, Herb. Obama making a brief mention of what has been acknowledged by everyone to be a true story (dog on a roof), IS NOT A “LOW BLOW”.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  83. Lit3Bolt says:

    @John Cole:

    James and Doug can’t hear you, as their too busy squirrel diving onto their fainting couches and the utterly deplorable turn that politics have taken THANKS TO THEIR POLITICAL PARTY.

    All James and Doug are doing is “teaching the controversy” between the equally horrible, equally false, equally beyond the pale political assaults of Republicans accusing Obama of being an illegal alien traitor to the Union socialist terrorist sympathizer and Democrats accusing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan of being out-of-touch, wealthy white men who put their money in tax shelters.

    Both are equally bad, and equally horrible, and both sides are to blame equally for the horrible state of affairs in America that we can do nothing about except provide links informing us how horrible things are.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  84. Herb says:

    @jukeboxgrad: “The Seamus story is about character. ”

    That may be true….but there are sooooo many other, better illustrations of Romney’s character to focus on. Why talk about Seamus when we could talk about Bain?

    @bk:

    “Obama making a brief mention of what has been acknowledged by everyone to be a true story (dog on a roof), IS NOT A “LOW BLOW”.”

    It may be true. It’s also true that John Candy was enormously fat. But say that to his face and he might have considered it a low blow.

    I’m not saying be polite. I’m saying don’t act like a child.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  85. wr says:

    @Herb: “I’m an Obama supporter and I’m not scandalized by Obama mentioning Seamus. But the Seamus thing is not relevant to Romney’s views or governing philosophy. It’s merely embarrassing.”

    Actually, I think it’s what’s generally called a “joke.” The Seamus thing was gentle ribbing. If that’s got Romney clutching his gonads, he shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of the White House.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  86. Jamey says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Increasingly poisonous? Worse than the birthers? Worse than “death panels,” or any of the rhetoric from the 2010 midterms? Seriously?! I think that the GOP’s top-line ticket is so appallingly awful and dysfunctional, that the Democrats almost have to pull their punches, lest it appear that they’re pantsing the kid with braces on his legs.

    It gets poisonous when Team Obama finally strike back against “KenyanMuslimSocialistRaaarrrr!” with “Apostate Blaspheming Magic Underpants-Cultist Draft Dodger.”

    Again, the difference is that the latter, unsavory a characterization as it might seem, actually happens to be true.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  87. It’s also true that John Candy was enormously fat.

    So far on this thread, we have one guy talking about “toll free porn numbers” and “John Candy.”

    Tell me, do any of you guys remember entering the new millennium? Is it 1991 where you live? Who is actually typing these things onto the magic light box for you?

    And this idea that “both sides do it” is something that should have been dead and buried by now, man. David Broder, bless his bi-partisan loving heart, is moldering in the cold, cold ground with that sentiment as well.

    I keep waiting for us all to wake up in modern America and then you see things like this that remind me that, somewhere, it’s still Iowa, Def Leppard is cool, and we’re all wearing stone-washed jeans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  88. Nikki says:

    Why is it that we can’t talk about the horrible tenor of the campaign, which is so bad at this point that almost all of the political reporters and analysts who’ve been in the game for a while say it’s as ugly as they’ve ever seen?

    Because we’ve seen it even uglier than it is now. We’ve seen it over the past 4 years. I apologize if I am incorrect, but it appears that the cries for civility only arose once the Republican candidate was getting his ass kicked left, right and center. You see, James, no one called for this civility when the Republicans were dishing out the nastiness all alone. Now the Democrats have joined in and, suddenly, it becomes ALL TOO MUCH TO BEAR and the demands for smelling salts. I hope Obama and his crew continue kicking ass and taking names.

    BTW, you know what the difference is between the Dem nastiness and the Rep nastiness? The Dem nastiness has the distinction of being true.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 0

  89. IOKIYAR says:

    Republican attacks have included Romney’s racist claim that Obama isn’t ‘American’ (anglo-saxon/white) and Palin’s claim Obama ‘pal’ed around with terrorists’.

    Republican sleaze attacked military veteran and Democratic candidate Kerry.

    Republican’s dishonorable tactics are now part of the political vocabulary: “swift-boating”.

    Republicans accused Democratic President Clinton of, good lord, everything they could think of: Murder and drug-dealing, ffs.

    But one thing that Republicans won’t abide is any hint of use of Republican tactics by their opponents.

    That’s a line that’s clearly offensive.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 0

  90. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s been said before by various people (including Michael Reynolds, I think): a clear sign of a pathetic bully is that they can dish it out but they can’t take it. This describes the GOP in general, and it especially describes Mitt.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  91. Barry says:

    @Donald Sensing: “So now we are free to accuse people of anything we want, with no evidence at all proffered in support, and the burden of proof automatically falls on the accused to show innocence? Very well: I have been told that you spend your evenings on toll-free phone porn numbers. I won’t reveal who told me that or when. ”

    Let me help ya out here, Don – releasing tax returns is what we in the USA call ‘customary’ for presidential candidates. A custom started by a Mr. Romney, the worthy father of an unworthy son.

    Romney the Lesser is running on his record as a businessman, which makes his tax/income records even more relevant.

    Clear now?

    If not, have an adult (or one of the nice nurses) explain it to you.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  92. Barry says:

    @PD Shaw: “The fallacy you are looking for is called the burden of proof fallacy. It has John Cole’s picture next to it.”

    Please read what I wrote, PD.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  93. Herb says:

    @Warren Jason Street:

    “So far on this thread, we have one guy talking about “toll free porn numbers” and “John Candy.”

    Tell me, do any of you guys remember entering the new millennium?”

    Cute. Probably a good thing I didn’t go with Orson Welles as my “dead guy I can call fat without hurting anyone’s feelings.”

    Should have went with Chris Christie. You might have put more effort into getting the point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  94. bandit says:

    @Brett:

    The main problem with the Sopic ad was that it wasn’t true. But if it had been true, then there’s nothing despicable about it.

    That’s possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  95. Mike says:

    @James Joyner: News flash: simply because democrats have decided to return fire with fire rather than the usual rolling up into the fetal position makes this campaign the mostest ugliest of all time? Republicans do it = not ugly, democrats join in = ugly. Got it. Thanks.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  96. bandit says:

    Hilarious – lefty haters gotta hate!

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

  97. Lynn Dee says:

    @wr: Exactly!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  98. Gus says:

    Yeah, for the first time ever, politics is ugly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  99. Slamhole says:

    @Moderate Mom: My goodness. People usually talk from experience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  100. Jon Marcus says:

    @Donald Sensing: Why you’re absolutely right. You put John Cole in a situation just like Mitt Romney’s. I refuse vote for either Mitt or John! That’ll show ’em.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0