Attack Ads

August 21, 2008

There has been a bit about McCain’s apparently deceptive statements earlier that he would run a clean campaign.  Some of his t.v. ads have been shown to be untrue or misleading.  Obama has been criticized for turning the other cheek, as Kerry did with the false Swift Boating campaign.  But he’s beginning to counter punch is his ads too.  The attack ads from Obama are not untrue but certainly insinuating. This sort of approach is apparently necessary for political success but I don’t care for it.

I’ve been reading a book about the American Whig Party and I’ve been puttering through detailed descriptions of politics in the Jacksonian Age.  My impression is that attack politics is not a recent election technique.  In the 1820’s and 30’s campaigns were striated with bombastic  predictions of doom if one person or another were elected.   To some degree they sought to inflame the masses.  I’ve found myself recently harboring Hamiltonian concerns about democracy.  But for all the apparent ease with which people can be influenced by unbecoming campaign tactics, corruption and exploitation seem to flourish the farther we — or any other nation — get away from democratic ideals.

You tube has more unleashed, more “Swift Boating” treatment of McCain’s record.   These seem to be the equivalent of nineteenth century pamphleteering.

There are a number of reasons that this sort of thing is a regrettable product of our system.  For me the chief reason is that it serves to polarize our country which now more than any time in my life is so bifurcated that the two parties seem unable to work together in Congress.  Political considerations seem to guide our representatives more than any notion of the common good.