The other night while eating dinner and watching the news, I listened as pundits went on about how sleazy the campaign had become, how with all the political chatter about the candidates they had stooped to new lows of cheap shots and dirty tricks. Look at Barack Obama with his unpatriotic wife and radical Islamic upbringing, or what about allegations made against John McCain the old McWar monger? Still, I couldn’t help but think how bad the 2004 election was with John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disaster, or the 2000 election and the Florida recount debacle.
Then I got on to thinking about the very beginning—before primaries, spin control, PAC’s, sound bites, hanging chads, and talking heads—when electing a president was a clean, sober, and dignified business. As it happened, there was no such thing. Van Buren was said to have worn women’s clothing, Dewey hated you and your children, Lincoln smelled, and Carter was a hick.
If all of this sounds depressing, cheer up. “Without smears, innuendo, and thievery tainting our electoral system, what would we have to connect us to our quickly vanishing past? Believe me: You could take any Whig or Federalist of yore, plunk him down in a modern presidential campaign, and (once accustomed to television and the internet) he’d be up and shrieking with the best of us.”
“We’re Americans, after all. A nice, dirty election runs in our blood.”–(Anything For A Vote)