This isn't really surprising. The public persona that politicians put forth is often a characiture or even a totally separate entity from the actual person. That McCain and Clinton get along behind the scenes is good news. In fact, I wish they'd bring that coridality to the forefront more. We need a return to the polity of the Foley/Reagan years. Political opponents shouldn't be enemies. They should be friends who have a difference of opinion. Characterizing your opponents as not just wrong but dangerous and/or evil is a very bad thing for all involved. For one thing, it begins the race to the bottom. Previously, such messages were curbed by party message managers. Now that the 529's have divorced the message managers from anyone with a message, we were bound to have nastier ads even if they're removed from the candidate by a veneer of deniabiltity.
Take the Swift Boat Vets for example. To the Right, they were a welcome change. The little guy with a message they wanted to get out. In previous election cycles they never would have had any sort of traction. Doubtless the President more than welcomed them to the debate but didn't have to comment on them or endorse their message in any forum. To the Left, they were smear artists, liars or worse.
I'm in favor of the the lone guy with a keyboard who can make his voice heard by the world with no cost as in Blogger. However, we are paying a price for unfiltered information. I hope this is all a temporary re-alignement that comes with changes as big as the ones we're seeing with informational channels. I fear it isn't.
This is a prime opportunity for leadership. The major parties should recognize that the rancor is dividing the country and show themselves to be sober, rational people who agree on goals but disagree on methods. Everybody wants honest government, good schools, safe streets and the like. The arguement is how to get those things done.