As is the case with beauty, wit and cuisine, negative politics occurs in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the voter.
The 2008 presidential campaign has turned rough, which is no surprise in an election where so much is at stake. This week's Exhibit A was Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Kennedy's move was motivated, at least in part, because he was upset with negative shots at Obama taken by former President Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife's campaign.
In what used to be the shadow of the World Trade Center, it was hard to find much sympathy for former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as he exited the presidential race.
"People liked him back in the day. But it's over," sidewalk salesman Irving Puryear declared, standing on the same patch of Broadway where he was forced to run from a cloud of debris and dust following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Americans have a decidedly dour view of how things are going in the country and an outsized view of what one person — the president — can do about it.
In a year when talk of change is all the rage in the presidential campaign, people have great expectations for the next president's ability to get things done, according to an extensive Associated Press-Yahoo News survey released Thursday.
Republican Mitt Romney accused John McCain of using dirty tricks by suggesting the former Massachusetts governor wanted a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, in a spirited debate Wednesday night that underscored the intensity of their presidential rivalry.
Coming 24 hours after McCain defeated him in Florida, Romney vented his frustrations over the Arizona senator's claims from last weekend.
"I have never, ever supported a specific timetable" for withdrawing troops, Romney said. McCain's accusation on the eve of Tuesday's primary, he said, "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible."
Politics is an honorable and, in a democracy, essential calling and at the pinnacle of that field is the American presidency. What we require our candidates to go through to get there verges on the sadistic.
Florida is the last sizable state to vote for presidential candidates in advance of "Super Tuesday" on Feb. 5, which will involve more than 20 states. While the Sunshine State holds both Democratic and Republican primaries, this year the latter is far more significant. John McCain's narrow victory, giving him 57 Republican delegates from the state, reinforces his already strong comeback campaign.
Contravening conventional wisdom once again, I take issue with this Associated Press report coming out of the Florida primary:
"Hillary Rodham Clinton finished Tuesday's Florida Democratic primary with more votes than any other Democrat, but the event drew no campaigning by any of her presidential rivals and awarded no delegates to the winner."
Comedian Bill Maher had it right --did no one notice Barack Obama was black before South Carolina?
Up to that primary, the contenders handled race rather responsibly. But in the heat of competition, the race factor came up in a nuanced, inexplicit way. Defensive sensitivities then surged forward.
Hillary Rodham Clinton simply over-credited Lyndon Johnson by saying Martin Luther King's dream didn't get realized until Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act. Of course, it took a movement to get him and Congress to that point.
John McCain has taken pole position in the Republican White House race, having secured Rudolph Giuliani's endorsement and with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger poised to follow suit.
Fresh from a crucial victory in Tuesday's Florida primary, the Arizona senator won the key backing of Giuliani Wednesday as the former New York mayor and hero of 9/11 announced his exit from the race.
Democrat John Edwards bowed out of the race for the White House on Wednesday, saying it was time to step aside "so that history can blaze its path" in a campaign now left to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
"With our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November," said Edwards, ending his second campaign in a hurricane-ravaged section of New Orleans where he began it more than a year ago.
Edwards said Clinton and Obama had both pledged that "they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency."