Here's the ad Dana mentioned below, and we should note that it is, at long last, the first negative ad of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Drumroll, please...

If nothing else, this just proves how civil this race has been. While lots of people complain about how dirty and nasty today's campaigns are, candidates today might as well be firing cannons filled with nerf balls compared to what used to go on. Andrew Jackson's opponents distributed pamphlets accusing him of being "a gambler, a cock fighter, a slave trader and the husband of a really fat wife." Now that's some negative campaigning! Or how about Karl Rove spreading rumors that his client's opponent was a pedophile? Ah, the good old days.

But what do we have here? Hillary Clinton comes out with guns blazing and accuses Barack Obama of ... not wanting to participate in enough debates. I'm outraged.

I suppose the problem at the moment for Clinton is that the story she's been telling about Obama all along - that he doesn't match her on experience, toughness, and policy chops -- doesn't seem to be doing the trick. But if she's going to set aside that argument, it has to be replaced with something. This is just one ad, of course. But it's hard to discern exactly why Clinton thinks voters should reject Obama and choose her instead.

-- Paul Waldman

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