Something is wrong with American politics, said Leonard Pitts Jr. in The Miami Herald, when the Internet is “infested” with bloggers and posters rejoicing at the news that conservative columnist Robert Novak has a brain tumor. Radio personality Michael Savage was just as bad when he played a song by the Dead Kennedys when Sen. Edward Kennedy was dianosed with brain cancer. These jerks mean to “debase” their political enemies, but they really debase “themselves—and political discourse as a whole.”

For a moment there it looked like Barack Obama and John McCain might help put the nation back on track, said syndicated columnist Cal Thomas in the Bowling Green, Ky., Daily News. But now the presidential candidates who promised civility and change have descended into the same old “pettiness,” with McCain accusing Obama of playing the race card and Obama saying McCain started it. “This is not what the public was promised.”

We share the blame, said Robert J. Samuelson in The Washington Post. Americans celebrate diversity, but most of us willingly divide ourselves by clustering into neighborhoods and states where people share our backgrounds and values. That dilutes the power of the center and drives politicians toward those on the extreme left or right, multiplying the power of those who want nothing more than to “demolish the other side.”