In Iowa, Republicans Take Out the Trash — Online

With the Ames Straw Poll only days away, Republican presidential candidates are seizing the high ground in Iowa, according to Slate’s John Dickerson. For example,

Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Sam Brownback are engaged in a multiround spat over sub-rosa attacks. Both camps have questioned the other’s Christian fiber. Tom Tancredo is being attacked in phone calls and e-mails for changing his position on term limits. In a Web video he accuses Brownback of telling pro-life voters Tancredo is pro-abortion. “We do expect more from people who at least call themselves Christians and have great family values,” says Tancredo, demanding an apology.

Ah, good fun all around — and with only the leadership of the world’s sole superpower at stake. What puts e.politics on the case is this little element:

New technology has made it easier to dish such dirt. You don’t have to slip a flier under a windshield wiper anymore. No more cutting out letters from the newspaper. You can unleash a little havoc with a few keystrokes or by launching a Web page. Slime by keystroke is more effective during the caucuses and primaries than in the general election because your audience is comprised largely of activists who are already known. Many of them are probably on a party e-mail list or supporter list from a previous GOP campaign. Those lists are available to lots of different campaigns.

Excellent — not only does the Internet open up the political process to previously unheard voices, level the playing field, bring low the mighty and lift high the miserable, but it also lets us be a complete bastard to the other guy. Such an improvement over the days of yore, when according to legend, LBJ once tried to spread a rumor that an opponent had had marital relations with a pig “just ’cause I want to hear him deny it.”


Written by
Colin Delany
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