In thinking about the polarization of politics in the USA, two thoughts come to mind.
The first is one that’s been belabored a lot in the blogosphere, which is that vicious, partisan politics is the norm for the USA, not an aberration. It may be bad, it may be unhelpful, but it’s hardly unprecedented.
Morever, as the old joke goes — “how do you define an attack advertisement? It’s the one that has a fact in it” — it may well be healthier for the Republic to have political campaigns that are willing to take strong positions. It may be that the recent anamolously polite politics is a result of media consolidation brought on by radio and TV. What we’re seeing now is the break down of Old Media, leading to a information distribution model similar to that of earlier times in the Republic. It may then be a natural result that politics is following along and adopting an earlier model as well, one that is probably better suited to diffuse media.
The second point is that tactically, the choice of Senator Kerry by the Democratic Party is likely to cause them even worse problems in 2008. I have little doubt that the result of Kerry losing the election will be to enhance the power and fervor of the hard core Left in the Democratic Party. The charge will be from the Green/Socialist/Tranzi side that Kerry lost because he wasn’t sufficiently pure. If Hillary Clinton wades in it will be a very vicious fight between the DLC oriented centrists and the far Left. If Kerry gets blown out, I’m not sure that will be good for Clinton because the Anyone But Bush League will feel like the German people did after WWI. It’s not clear even the Clinton magic will suffice to tame that beast.