There’s a campaign of negative advertising going on right now. It is aimed at John Kerry and sponsored by an organization which claims to be separate from the Republican Party. That’s what brings what I’m about to say to mind.
Negative advertising works.
I am not passing judgment on Senator Kerry or President Bush or even the Swift Boat Veterans group which is paying for the ads. All that will wash out over time, and it’s my intention to stay non-partisan here.
Negative advertising is the perfect political ploy because it satisfies two objectives. It puts your opponent on the defensive and it keeps him from setting his own agenda. So, a candidate is forced to abandon his strengths to shore up his weakness. Brilliant.
The fact that this is often done by surrogates (and the Democrats have their surrogates too) allows the candidate not being tarred to stay above it all.
Negative ads are used because they work. They change minds. They cause supporters to question their commitment. They sway the undecided.
You can get people to vote against a candidate. Until that changes, mud will continue to be thrown.