IT'S political mud-wrestling time again. Welcome to the 1996 presidential campaign, which already looks like a down-and-dirty affair, played with attack ads and instant retorts. Three months before the official campaign for the general election actually gets under way, political observers have been astonished by the onslaught of confrontational campaigning between President Bill Clinton and Republican challenger Bob Dole.
What one Democratic Party official described as a "head-to-head combat" has intensified by the so-called rapid-response strategy that is well-honed by both parties, with the White House at times responding to Dole's speeches even before they are delivered.
The rapid-fire charge and countercharge approach is posing a problem for the press, whose coverage of the race runs the risk of manipulation by political spin doctors operating high-speed technology.
Doug Bailey, a Republican Party consultant and president of the American Political Network, which publishes a daily wrap-up of political...