WaPo opinion writer Dana Milbank has a perceptive take on the tone of the 2012 presidential campaign. Milbank quotes WaPo’s Dan Balz and other sources commenting on the toxicity of the campaign, but then adds that one major thing is indeed very different:
…Democrats are now employing harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long…Yes, it’s ugly out there. But is this worse than four years ago, when Obama was accused by the GOP vice presidential nominee of “palling around with terrorists”? Or eight years ago, when Democratic nominee John Kerry was accused of falsifying his Vietnam War record?
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.
Balz is correct when he observes that the “most striking” element of the campaign is “the sense that all restraints are gone, the guardrails have disappeared and there is no incentive for anyone to hold back.” In large part, this is because the Democrats are no longer simply whining about the other side being reckless and unfair:
And that’s all to the good — and long-overdue.