Dirty Campaigns

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DIRTY CAMPAIGNS….Brad DeLong comments on the 2008 campaign:

Yes, John McCain ran a dirty campaign. But it was a less dirty campaign than any Republican has run since… well, since the memory of man runneth (with the possible exception of Ford 1976). The difference this year was that — for some reason — this year a fraction of the mainstream press called them on it rather than ignoring it entirely.

I have my doubts that the media per se was the difference this year. For what it’s worth, I think the difference is that in past presidential elections most of the really vile campaigning — not all, but most — was either kept under the radar or left to surrogates. Plausible deniability was maintained for the worst of it. This year, for some reason, the McCain campaign itself was willing to conduct a lot of its sleazy attacks publicly in its own name, and this opened them up to media criticism in a way that previous campaigns managed to avoid. I don’t know why they did this. I’m not sure that Brad is right about the relative civility of McCain’s campaign in any case, but there’s not much question that McCain’s eager public embrace of slime made his campaign seem worse than it had to. I don’t really have a good theory to explain why they did this.

POSTSCRIPT: I should add that I don’t mean to imply this is the whole story. It’s true that the media liked Obama and treated him pretty easily. I imagine this was partly because so much of the anti-Obama stuff was so plainly crazy (he’s a Muslim, he’s a black nationalist, his birth certificate was forged, etc.) and partly because they were being extra careful not to buy into any criticism that seemed even arguably racially motivated. And they were probably harder on McCain than normal because they felt like their hero from 2000 had fallen to earth.

In the end, though, despite constant kvetching from conservatives, the media did report on Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and Joe the Plumber and all that. And it just didn’t stick. Who knows why? For whatever reason, the public just wasn’t in the mood for this brand of BS this year.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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