The bottom line was that the Bush campaign and its allies did a better job than the Kerry campaign and its allies in using the Freak Show -- its magni?cation of the personal and negative -- to de?ne the opposing candidate. But the story as told in this chapter is a tactical one. What is more important for the next presidential election is the strategic reality that the Freak Show does not affect both parties equally.
The dynamic in 2008 will be the same as it was in 2004. There are structural issues in politics and media that now favor Republicans over Democrats. Freak Show politics will represent only a moderate threat to Republicans and give them a major advantage as they try to de?ne the opposition on unfavorable terms. On the other side, Freak Show politics offers virtually no advantages for Democrats, but will again present a huge threat to any politician hoping to keep control of the narrative of his -- or her -- life story.