Eight months from now, either John McCain or Barack Obama will be the new president-elect of the United States of America. And if voters get what they have been clamoring for, the election will bring to a close what promises to be the dirtiest campaign ever fought, marked by personal attacks of such viciousness that they will make the usual mudslinging seem like a steam bath…
…There’s a more serious problem, which is that the focus on authenticity might end up exacerbating the deeply partisan campaigning that voters claim to find so off-putting. Whatever else it may be, authenticity is about character, and if you choose to rest your appeal on your character then you open yourself up to personal attacks. When it comes to the politics of authenticity, character assassination becomes a legitimate – if not completely obligatory – gambit.
— Andrew Potter, Maclean’s, February 2008
The first question I asked John McCain and then Barack Obama was: How do you feel about the tone and direction of the campaign so far? No surprise. Both men pronounced themselves thoroughly frustrated by the personal bitterness and negativism they have seen in the two months since they learned they would be running against each other.
David Broder, Why Is It So Nasty, So Soon?