The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson captured The Stiletto’s sentiments to a T when he wrote in a recent column, “Finally, we’ve got a real presidential campaign on our hands. Wake up, those of you in the back row, because it looks as if the long-running seminar is finally over.” After detailing the internecine fighting between Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL), Clinton and John Edwards (D-NC), Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney (R-MA), he adds, “Ain’t it grand?”

While some, like RealClearPolitics pundit Jay Cost, who pens The HorseRaceBlog, believe that negative campaigning is detrimental to politics on a macro level and to individual candidacies on a micro level, The Stiletto agrees with Robinson, who makes the case:

[R]ough, tough, even “negative” campaigning isn’t a pox on the republic. For one thing, it’s traditional; the politics of today are positively genteel compared with, say, a century ago. For another, the swordplay of attack and counterattack has a way of getting candidates off their standard, focus-group-tested campaign rhetoric and flushing out their unvarnished views – and also a way of letting us glimpse their character and judgment.

The gloves finally came off earlier this month in both the Dem debate in Las Vegas and last month’s Republican debate in Orlando.

Since then, Obama has wondered aloud whether being Bill Clinton’s wife is enough “experience” to be president, Edwards has said that being a co-president during the Clinton Administration is the wrong kind of experience. Both are very legitimate criticisms and will put the raison d’etre of the Clinton campaign to the test before her eventual Republican challenger has at her should she win her party’s nomination.

And now, there’s even a new Willie Horton to stir things up on the Republican side, though Romney’s calls for Superior Court Judge Kathe M. Tuttman – whom he appointed in April 2006 when he was governor of MA – to resign may turn out to be unjustified because of foot-dragging and incompetence on the part of the state Department of Corrections – which lends credence to Rudy’s dismissive assessment that Romney was no great shakes as a governor.

Meanwhile, Fred Thompson, who matters less and less with each passing day, writes off Rudy’s experience as New York City’s mayor, prompting Rudy’s campaign to note that Thompson “is a Washington insider and lobbyist … who played the role Rudy Giuliani actually lived on a television series.”

Yup, it’s getting ugly. But after months of hearing nothing but poll-tested, rehearsed sound bites masquerading as debate answers, voters will get the crucial information they need to assess the candidates. And that’s the beauty of negative campaigning.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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