Browsing the BBC web site, I came upon a video feed of an interview with former President Bush, the current President's father. No real surprises until he was asked out the campaign's tone:
Interviewer: Everyone says this was a very divisive campaign and that the country now needs to be unified. Would you say that it was any more divisive than usual?
George Herbert Walker Bush: Well I think maybe more ... uh ... there was more visceral hatred about the President than I've ever felt. Uh .. I don't ... I remember campaigns being really tough .. uh ... when I ran against Clinton, but he wasn't, they weren't using words like "liar" and, uh, it wasn't as difficult as ... This one was more difficult than in the past, I think. I expect the Kerry people would say the same thing but I don't think they can point to any example where the President himself got into that, uh, name-calling, uh, outrageous posture.
Really? Can't point to an example?
Well, there were the debates:http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004a.html
BUSH: That's totally absurd.
BUSH: The only consistent about my opponent's position is that he's been inconsistent. http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004c.html
BUSH: ... He said he thought Saddam Hussein was a grave threat, and now he said it was a mistake to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
BUSH: He keeps talking about, "Let the inspectors do their job." It's naive and dangerous to say that.
BUSH: don't think my opponent has got the right view about the world to make us safe; I really don't.
BUSH: ... First, the National Journal named Senator Kennedy the most liberal senator of all. And that's saying something in that bunch. You might say that took a lot of hard work
BUSH: He's just not credible when he talks about being fiscally conservative. He's just not credible. ... And of course he's going to raise your taxes. http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004d.html
BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.
BUSH: ... It's an empty promise. It's called bait and switch.
BUSH: Well, his rhetoric doesn't match his record. ... He talks about PAYGO. ...pay go means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends.
BUSH: ... In his last litany of misstatements. He said we cut Pell Grants.
BUSH: He forgot to tell you he voted to tax Social Security benefits more than one time.
BUSH: ... He just doesn't understand how the borders work, evidently, to say that. That is an outrageous claim
BUSH: ... In our first debate he proposed America pass a global test. In order to defend ourselves, we'd have to get international approval.
BUSH: ... Apparently you can't pass any test under his vision of the world.
And speeches he made on the campaign trail:http://www.georgewbush.com/News/Read.aspx?ID=3787
"I didn't pick my Vice President for his hairdo."
"My opponent is a tax-and-spend liberal"
"This is my opponent's alliance-building strategy: brush off your best friends, fawn over your critics."http://www.georgewbush.com/News/Read.aspx?ID=4180
"There is a mainstream in American politics, and John Kerry sits on the far left bank."
"And then -- and then he entered the flip-flop hall of fame."
Perhaps former president Bush just didn't take too great an interest in his son's campaign.