My subjective impression is that the "left side of the web" has increasingly adopted a trope of accusing The Other Side of "sliming" or "smearing" its hero du jour. Sometimes "swift-boating" is added. Mother Huffington manages all three here:
And despite everything Cindy Sheehan has been through in the last year and a half, including weeks of sliming and smearing and swift-boating by Bush's attack machine, …
Cindy Sheehan is of course the latest. Searching for "smearing Cindy Sheehan" gets 38,200 Google hits; "sliming Cindy Sheehan" garners 18,800 (although Google helpfully asks: "Did you mean: slimming Cindy Sheehan"). And "swift boating Cindy Sheehan" gets a whopping 76,400 results. Truly a herd of independent minds at work … Other smearees: John Wilson, Valerie Plame, John Kerry (obviously), Richard Clarke, Max Cleland, …
Sometimes the words go the other way: Dubya was not "swift boated" when 60 Minutes used forged documents to disparage his National Guard service, but I found some brave folks that called it a "smear". John Roberts was "slimed" when NARAL emitted an ad implying he was on the side of folks looking to blow up abortion clinics (but only 255 hits for "slimed 'John Roberts' NARAL"; not that popular a meme).
And (apparently) it's a "smear" to point out that Mama Sheehan is wildly extreme in her rhetoric; that John Kerry did not spend Christmas in Cambodia; that John Wilson hasn't been especially truthful in his public statements. All true, but smeary.
No real point, other than to note the tediously consistent rhetoric, and to point out that it's getting a little old, tiresome, and predictable.
But (via Instapundit), let me note Mark Kleiman's takedown of a real slime attempt. Damn, that Juan Cole is a piece of work.