The myth of the 'positive' 2008 Obama campaign

Inspired by Bookergate and its aftermaths, Molly Ball writes at length about the new tone of the Obama campaign. It “has taken,” she claims, “a brutal, no-holds-barred approach that’s sharply at odds with the conciliatory image that was the central predicate of Obama’s entire pre-presidential political career.” …

The myth that Obama ran a Different Kind of Campaign is based on a few bold bets — like rejecting an early summer gas tax holiday — that paid off. But we’re also talking about a campaign that completely fabricated an anti-NAFTA position, and a campaign that tipped off Ben Smith to the haircut that destroyed John Edwards.* We’re talking about a campaign that outspent John McCain by as much as a 3-1 ratio in the final stretch, and devoted most of that money to negative ads. The “hope and change” campaign was the happy cover on a dogged, overwhelming attack campaign. It used to benefit Democrats to obscure this; now, it benefits Republicans.