How do negative campaign ads from the past compare to this election?

week we’re looking at some of the latest negative ads in the McCain
vs. Obama battle for the presidency—ads attacking Obama, such as
and Ayers, and ads attacking McCain, such as
and It’s Over.  We’ve even looked at Ohioan
Joe the Plumber
’s role. (See Monday’s post on Joe the Plumber and Tuesday’s post on Negative ads.) Today,
we look at past negative ads and some of the similarities to the ads
we see today.



– Kennedy vs. Nixon.  Kennedy then, like Obama today, was young,
charismatic, likeable, and inexperienced compared to his opponent. Nixon’s Experience? used a clip of President Eisenhower to question
the validity of Nixon’s experience.  When asked for any of Nixon’s
ideas that he had adopted, Eisenhower said, “If you give me a week
I might think of one.” Click here to learn more about this campaign and the results.

– Johnson vs. Goldwater.  Johnson aired negative ads implying
that Goldwater was a nuclear-bomb-loving extremist.  Daisy
showed a small girl counting the petals on a flower, followed by a launch
countdown and a mushroom cloud. Merely Another Weapon.  used
Goldwater’s own words to portray him as trigger happy. Click here to learn more about this campaign and the results.

– Bush vs. Dukakis.  Bush portrayed Dukakis as weak on crime,
using Willie Horton to make his point:  Horton, a convicted
murderer, was given weekend passes from jail. He escaped and committed
additional violent crimes.  Dukakis used Crazy and Oval
to highlight the inexperience of Bush’s running mate, Dan
Quayle.  With the sound of heartbeat in the background, we’re
reminded that Quayle then (like Palin today) would be a heartbeat away
from the presidency.  Click here to learn more about this campagin and the results.   

do you think?  Real similarities, or more differences?  How do you react
to the old attack ads—and the new?

(An NPR program was the inspiration for
today’s post, which you can listen to here.) 

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