Remote, Controlled

Here is what you really learn about the four major candidates in their 30-second campaign spots

If you want to learn the darkest strategic assumptions of a presidential campaign, you could spend weeks enticing operatives to reveal their confidential polling data, focus-group surveys and off-the-record-deep-background-not-for-attribution- expose-me-and-I'll-kill-you thoughts. Or you could watch television commercials.

People like me are supposed to disdain campaign ads as simplistic and demagogic. But these ads reflect a campaign's efforts to distill its themes into the purest form. And why not? It's where the lion's share of the budget is going. Watch these ads, and they'll tell you exactly what these campaigns most hope--and fear.

Is the campaign of Governor George W. Bush afraid...

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