UW Professor Ken Goldstein is fond of telling anyone who will listen that negative political ads are good for you, going so far as to call them a "multivitamin for the democratic process."
If there's even a whiff of aptness in that analogy, then recent elections like Wisconsin's last two state Supreme Court races proved one thing conclusively. It's possible to overdose on vitamins.
In this fall's elections, a bunch of phony front groups and party satellites held voters' noses and tried pilling us again, but the public wasn't swallowing what they were trying to force down our throats. One of the big stories of the 2008 election was the public's repudiation of gutter politics. Smear campaigns failed, as the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram pointed out, from the national stage to the local scene.
Now that's something worth celebrating.