Dogs and Cats Living Together

It often happens that when campaign negativity reaches a fever pitch, a candidate will take a small step back from the vitriol and say something like, "My opponent is a nice guy—he's just wrong about everything." What they almost never do, however, is say, "My opponent is wrong about a lot of things, and if he gets elected, things won't be good. I'm not saying it'll be a disaster, but it'd be better if you elected me." The imperatives of campaigning lead candidates to spin out the most disastrous scenarios and apocalyptic warnings. And there's no doubt that some people believe them; you wouldn't have to interview too many Republican voters to find a few who sincerely believe that if Barack Obama is re-elected, within a few months freedom will disappear, Christianity will be outlawed, everyone's guns will be confiscated, and so on. But usually, presidential candidates—who know they must appeal to people who retain a grip on reality—try to keep these arguments within limits.

But not all of them. Ladies and gentlemen, Rick Santorum:

Holy crap! Was that a shot of Barack Obama forcing a little girl to bite the head off her beloved guinea pig? Maybe not, but almost. Apparently, it will take Obama only two years to turn America into some combination of "The Day After" and "Saw."

My question is, do the people on the Santorum campaign actually believe this will be persuasive to anyone? Or are they so blinded by their own hatred of Obama that they can't see how silly this is? Or do they just think that they have to ramp up the rhetoric to keep the Republican base from resignedly signing on with Mitt Romney? It is, after all, still the primaries. But has there ever been a campaign from a leading Democratic presidential candidate that put out this kind of insanity?

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