Joe Klein points out that the newfound anonymity of attack ads, made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows faceless money conglomerates to run ads on a candidate’s behalf without the usual “I approved this message,” makes for much “more effective and brutal” adverts.
Negative ads have been more effective and brutal this time because no one has to get up there at the end and say, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”
That line came in for a fair amount of mockery when the federal government began to require it a few cycles ago. But it worked. It became harder to for a candidate to have an ad accusing an opponent of being a mother-raper if he or she had to appear at the end and say, “I approve this message.” In fact, in 2004, “I approve this message” just about killed Dick Gephardt in Iowa, as he set to work filleting Howard Dean. Iowans are nice. They don’t like candidates who aren’t.