Saturday, July 5, 2008

An American Tradition

232 years of mudslinging.
With the presidential nominees all but official, partisans on both sides are targeting their campaigns -- and that inevitably means negative ads. Lately they have come in the form of unsolicited e-mails portraying Barack Obama as a Muslim or charging John McCain with abandoning his disabled first wife. Yet, though we decry it, negative campaigning is as much a part of our political tradition as fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Since the time of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, successful politicians have sought to sanctify their candidate and demonize their opponent. After three largely nonpartisan elections, the first campaign for president, in 1800, pitted Adams against Jefferson. Patriots in the best sense of the word, both men were brilliant, successful lawyers who stood out among the surviving heroes of the American Revolution. Devoted family men, they had served their states and country during the war and held high positions in George Washington's administration.

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