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As the Democrats planned hate parade at next week’s GOP convention suggests, that’s not likely to change any time soon. The Obama campaign has already sunk over $100 million into advertising, the majority of it attacking Romney. Affiliated Democratic groups have pitched in another $20 million for the anti-Romney ad blitz. Millions more will be spent, by both sides, as the presidential race begins in earnest this fall.
The overwhelmingly negative tenor of the campaign is not without its perils. Polls show that the drumbeat of negative campaigning, coupled with the grim economic picture, has dispirited formerly enthusiastic Obama supporters. “There’s this sense of disillusionment. We don’t see as many people saying he makes them feel proud,” Pew Research Center director Andrew Kohut recently said. The point is emphatically driven home in a new documentary by Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group of Supreme Court fame. Titled “The Hope and the Change,” the film interviews committed Democrats whose early support for (and in some cases infatuation with) the president has devolved into buyer’s remorse. The savior of 2008 is the failure of 2012.
Obama is of course not the first president to go negative in a campaign. But because he once made such bold promises to transform the discourse in Washington, the current gap between rhetoric and reality seems particularly stark. Not the least of the ironies of the Obama presidency is that the candidate who promised to rise above partisan rancor has become its incarnation.
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