The most interesting part of the NY Times editorial that Kathryn links to below — about “The Low Road to Victory” — is that they are effectively withdrawing their primary endorsement of Hillary. They made this call a mere couple of months ago — having known her for 16 years — and now things have changed with her character? Equally fascinating is the implicit assumption that when a candidate, in this case Hillary, shows real strength and determination not to be crushed — on fairly substantive grounds (i.e. she can win the big states needed in the general) — they regard that very strength and desire to triumph as a sign of evil. This is direct analogue to their views about American strength vis-a-vis the enemy of the era; or Israel’s strong determination and actions taken not to be destroyed by real enemies. This, in fact, is the signature element of modern liberalism that makes so many of us regard it, and its adherents as unfit for governance: Winning, showing strength, wanting to survive against attack is a sign of something evil. Now that Hillary has had these arguments turned on her, perhaps she will learn a thing or two.
Finally — by what reckoning has this primary fight been so nasty? So dirty? So mean? We have all seen much worse. If anything, until this past month the questions and the charges have been much too dainty. Barack Obama is a stranger to most of the electorate. It is just fine to question any and all of his associations and political views. Failure to do so is malfeasance; failure to highlight his weaknesses as a leader would be some kind of suicide pact for an opponent.
The Times is upset that Hillary invoked serious threats to the U.S., including Osama bin Laden, in a recent ad. Why? Because he isn’t a threat? It’s racist to mention an Arabic name that sounds like Obama? What is the etiquette here?
Finally, the horrors of negative campaigning are much exagerated. While it is important to get your own rationale for wanting high office, vision, and accomplishments out there early and often, it is just as important for voters to judge the competing weaknesses of candidates as their strengths. You never know which will matter more in a crunch. Personally, I’d say that weakness, indecisiveness, and a failure to comprehend basic American values and allegiances, are worse failings than lack of truthfulness and integrity — if that is the choice.