Politico has turned in another big-picture story on the presidential race.

It’s titled “The 2012 campaign is the smallest ever,” or at least smaller than the 2008 race. No need to wade through history, though: “Nothing previously can compare with a race being fought hour by hour in 140-character Twitter increments and blink-and-you-miss-it cable segments.” It notes that the 2012 contest skews trivial, that “Neither side sees themselves at fault,” that the campaigns spend all day “strafing” one another on Twitter and so on.

It criticizes the “two camps” for being “fixated on the need to counter each and every broadside from the other team and allow no hour of the day to pass in which their opponent is not prosecuting the argument more aggressively,” even though we know damn well that Politico would hammer them for failing to do so.

It notes that “veteran strategists and observers agree” with the story’s thesis.

It pushes a mild contradiction in distant parts of the story:

Paragraph 7: ”[A]t most junctures when they’ve had the opportunity to go big, [the campaigns have] chosen to go small.”

Paragraph 20: “The candidates do, at times, speak in terms of broad principles.”

Redemption for this piece, however, arrives in a package of self-awareness. No hit piece on the race can exclude a cudgel for the media, and here Politico delivers:

At the same time, the media bemoans the small campaign but is enduring its own version of self-loathing and powerlessness. The endless news cycle, infused with partisanship thanks to cable news and coupled with the Internet-age imperative to produce faster, more provocative copy, has amplified every cynical and self-indulgent impulse of the political press — POLITICO included.

Deft deployment of the drama dash, all-caps branding plus honesty and full-disclosure. Fun.