In case you've missed it, the two presumptive presidential candidates and their minions are "defining" each other these days. That means highly partisan exchanges and negative clashes between their hyped-up allies.
Sen. Barack Obama is defined as being an enemy of small business, a liberal bent on raising your taxes, a little-known senator with a fuzzy past and a man backed by strange preachers.
Worse, purely false rumors spread on the Internet that he is a Muslim.
Sen. John McCain is depicted as running for Bush's third term, being a total hypocrite on taxes, a hawk dedicated to more warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan and an aging politician with a super rich second wife.
Worse, he still gets some hits within his own party as a carryover from the smear campaign against him in the 2000 primary race in South Carolina with Bush, wherein scurrilous rumors were spread that he had fathered an illegitimate black child. This too was a total fabrication.
All of this activity is nothing new. It has become a campaign ritual after the nominees are known and the two conventions are still more than two months away.
Americans tell pollsters they dislike negative TV commercials. But these ads continue to run because consultants insist they work. They must.
For example, the Swift Boat ads in 2004 challenged Sen. John Kerry's war record in Vietnam. Forget that he was wounded three times and Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard. Because Kerry was slow to respond to the ads, they contributed to his loss.
The campaign calendar allows the candidates the rest of June, July, and nearly all of August to "define" each other. Consider yourself lucky if you are on vacation when these charges and countercharges are played out.
The dog days of summer are with us — hot weather and presidential politics.