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.