Where are the civility police and the No Labels crowd when you need them? Why has the “sensible center” in the U.S. Senate gone mute? How is it that editorial boards who decried the least hint of campaign vitriol from Sarah Palin in 2008 have tiptoed around the issue.?
The issue, of course, is the president’s campaign, which has gone where no campaign has ever ventured. The president’s right-hand man for his 2008 campaign and much of his first term, Bill Burton, runs an ad in which Mitt Romney is falsely accused of depriving a woman of life-saving medical treatment. Burton denies that’s what the ad says, and Obama campaign officials falsely claim they don’t know anything about it. Robert Gibbs and Stephanie Cutter as well as Jay Carney refuse to condemn the attack.
Mark Halperin who co-wrote “Game Change,” the rather glorified account of the 2008 Obama campaign writes:
This new super PAC spot, called “Understands,” which the White House and the Obama campaign decline to repudiate, is a horse of a different color. It really isn’t about policy (although some Democrats will claim otherwise). It is meant to use the emotion of a tragic story told by a bereaved widower to make voters think Governor Romney is callous and indifferent, and even is accountable for a woman’s death.
Responsible journalists will continue to do their best in the Freak Show environment to truth squad every ad, video, and communication. But when lines of decency are crossed, more strenuous efforts are required.
And the distinction the Obamans are trying to draw between a super PAC ad and a campaign ad are meaningless in this case. The campaign didn’t make the ad, but they could publicly call for it to be pulled off the air if they wanted it snuffed out. They aren’t, and they don’t.
This follows the grotesque effort by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to claim Romney didn’t pay his taxes and demand Romney pony up the returns to prove he did. And yet some journalists say that’s no worse than Romney deciding to produce “only” two years of tax returns.
Where are the voices who chide how dysfunctional government has become? Is Evan Bayh on vacation? Mr. Comity himself, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who found his primary opponent to embody all that’s wrong in politics, apparently has nothing to say about Obama, Burton and Reid. I long to hear from John Avlon, Steven Beschloss, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and the rest of the No Labelers about the damage done to our country by diving into the political mud with such abandon. Where are the “wise” men and women who get recycled for every commission to come along? The sainted Colin Powell is mute. And really, do Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann have no views on all this? (Oh, yes, it’s all the Republicans’ fault.)
In fact, for all the collective clucking about polarization and tone, when the worst of the worst in presidential campaigning comes along all these tut-tutters go quiet. A cynic might say that is because they reserve their ire for conservatives. Maybe they just don’t have the nerve to take on the liberal elites who continue to blame the victim (Romney in this case).
I’m not sure which is worse — the president or the hypocritical elites. On second thought, we should expect nothing from the latter. For now Obama is still president; He and his surrogates owe their fellow citizens basic decency. They haven’t come close to delivering.