|President Cleveland's bastard son cries for a return to civility|
Naw, I don't either.
From day one politics has been a messy, often nasty business. A non-political website called Collector's Weekly took note of this in an illustrated feature whose story is told by way of campaign buttons. (Thanks to Taegan Goddard for linking to it.)
Some are from fairly recent history, with buttons aimed at Bob Dole, Teddy Kennedy, and, of course, Richard Nixon.
The oldest button shown in this feature concerns FDR's wife Eleanor. But we know political personal attacks go back much further.
Just ask Grover Cleveland, who acknowledged paying child support to a woman, not his wife. Or Abe Lincoln, whose opponents called him the "ape baboon of the prairie."
And presidential campaign songs, especially in the 1800s, show that the rhetoric rhetoric often went way overboard. As folksinger Oscar Brand documented in his album Presidential Campaign Songs 1789-1996, John Quincy Adams supporters warned about what was comin' if Quincy wasn't elected
Tears are comin', fears are comin'
Plague and pestiliance is comin'
Hatin's comin', Satan's comin'
If John Quincy not be comin'.
So let's not wring our hands too hard when the 2012 race starts getting mean-spirited.