In 2008 Barack Obama’s victory followed a timeless script – the charismatic outsider trounces the establishment to win the big prize. As Richard Wolffe writes, this year’s campaign is a revenge drama. Obama is borrowing the script which a wounded George W. Bush used to defeat his challenger, John Kerry, in 2004. The plan was simple: destroy the challenger’s character before he can dust himself down from the primary battle, then spare no effort to get your core supporters out to vote.
With an estimated billion dollars being spent on campaigning, the dominant tone has been set by attack ads. As we move into the TV debate season, policy will come to the fore. John Bolton says the US needs to return to Ronald Reagan’s policy of ‘peace through strength’. For the Obama campaign, Charles Kupchan and Bruce Jentleson argue that today’s dynamic landscape needs ‘principled pragmatism’.