Los Angeles Times har en viktig artikel om republikanernas allt smutsigare kampanjmetoder:
WASHINGTON — Three years ago, a line was quietly crossed in the annals of political history.
In newspapers across South Dakota, an out-of-state conservative group ran a political ad linking a Democratic senator to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Critics cried foul, saying it breached standards of political decency.
That was then. This is now, and campaign efforts to link politicians to terrorists are a dime a dozen. And they are coming not from little-known fringe groups but from such pillars of the political establishment as the speaker of the House.
Therein lies the dubious hallmark of the 2004 election cycle. It has evolved into one of the most relentlessly negative political campaigns in memory, as attacks on a candidate’s character, patriotism and fitness for office, which once seemed out of bounds, have become routine. More ads than ever focused on discrediting an opponent rather than promoting a candidate, independent analysts said. And, the analysts warned, the presidential campaign was breaking new ground in a candidate’s willingness to bend the truth.
“There is a very high level of factual inaccuracy out there,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, whose website, http://www.factcheck.org , has identified dozens of major distortions in presidential campaign ads and speeches this year.
Especially in recent weeks, she said, the rhetoric has been “as dirty as I can remember.”
Mudslinging has been part of American politics since mud was around to sling. But politicians and nonpartisan analysts said that 2004 has taken incivility to a new level. “The indecent has become the methodology of the day,” said Rep. James A. Leach (R-Iowa), a politician who has pledged never to criticize an opponent. “Politics always implies division, but it does not have to involve bad manners.”
But the coarseness of the presidential campaign is not just a lapse of manners: It is a dynamic that could be central to the outcome. Perhaps nothing has done more to shape the campaign than President Bush’s effort to define his Democratic opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry, as a “flip-flopper” who is liberal at the core — and what some analysts said was the GOP’s willingness to take liberties with Kerry’s record to make the point.
Bush ran his first attack ad March 4 — two days after Kerry’s victories in the “Super Tuesday” primaries effectively clinched the Democratic nomination. Since then, Bush has pressed the message that Kerry was not simply a man with whom he disagreed, but one who lacked the character and integrity to serve as president.
Kerry has practiced his own brand of negative campaigning, approaching but not quite crossing the line of calling Bush a liar. But those attacks have not been as central to his campaign strategy as Bush’s effort to define Kerry before he defined himself.