Heels on, Gloves off

With four weeks to go, both campaigns have pulled up their defense line and are playing an aggressive offense. This should come as no surprise, even after a relatively tame battle between Obama and McCain during the past several months. Attack politics is what the electorate expects, and it really doesn’t feel like a full-grown election cycle until the name-calling, slapping and biting begins. It is now safe to say both presidential campaigns have moved out of their cute and adorable nascent phases and have moved into their terrible too’s: two campaigns with two running mates launching hyperbolic attacks based on the too tactic: “She hates her country too!” “He is too corrupt!”

And while the culture of kindness has its merits, in my belief, I think the American’s aversion to slaughterhouse politics may have been a bit overstated by the media as of late. Yes, people respond well to positive arguments, but we also really appreciate a good shot at the jugular. And this is the politics we will see in the next four weeks.

“For us — for me — the heels are on, the gloves are off,” Sarah Palin said yesterday at a rally in Naples, Florida.

Stump speeches—and apparently debates in Palin’s case—are always a great way to get in a good jab at the opponent without having to worry about them hitting back, at least not directly and right away. Another old-time favorite, however, is the attack ad. Both campaigns have been relatively light on the ad front until now, but that has changed.

McCain’s latest ad calls Obama “dishonorable” (read: “unpatriotic”) and “dangerous” (read: “a dangerous black man”) and “ too risky for America” (read: “too ethnic/young/different for America”). Watch here [www.youtube.com].

Obama’s latest ads calls McCain “erratic” (read: “senile and about to kick the bucket”) and another is in the form of a documentary that highlights McCain’s involvement in the Keating 5 banking scandal. Watch here [www.youtube.com].

Heals on, gloves off politics has been the bread and butter of political campaigns throughout history. And while these ads may have trouble resonating among most Americans, the traditional kind of politics that they represent is what we’ve come to know the best and also the aspect of politics that many of us feel is the most terrible, too.

–Jamie Wong