The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that Sen. Barack Obama is preparing a "a full assault on Sen. Hillary Clinton over ethics and transparency."
Within hours the Clinton campaign responded by alleging that Obama should be held accountable by the media for going "shockingly negative" after "he had promised to play nice."
"This is a tried-and-true technique of the Obama campaign that has repeatedly shifted negative when they find the momentum shifting against them," said Clinton aide Mark Penn.
Penn’s comment prompted Politico reporter Ben Smith to ask, "whether that hadn’t also been what Clinton did when she found the momentum shifting against her."
Penn demured in response to Smith’s question, answering: "They have decided to go consistently negative. They have gone personally negative against Sen. Clinton repeatedly in this campaign, and that is a big difference."
Of couse, the real difference over whether an advertisment is "negative" or "drawing a contrast" is through the eyes of beholder. And the truth is that no matter what you call it, negative/contrast messages, like all political speech, play an important role in our democracy.
More after the jump.