Thursday, August 16, 2012

Michael Gerson Couldn't be More of a Hack if He Tried

And yet he keeps trying.
For the Obama campaign, this is not an aberration; it is a culmination. The demonization of Romney is a main element of its strategy, pursued by Obama’s closest associates and former employees, not by loosely affiliated partisan groups. Deniability is not even remotely plausible, but it doesn’t remotely matter. Even when exposed, the Obama campaign never retracts, never apologizes — convinced that the news cycle will quickly erase inconvenient memories.
This from the guy who used to sit adoringly at Karl Rove's knee? The Obama team can take some comfort here - you don't elicit crocodile tears that large unless the hack criticizing your campaign knows his side is losing.
But the most vivid accusation (made by a closely associated PAC and embraced by the campaign itself) is that Romney’s ruthless business practices were responsible for the closing of a firm, the loss of a couple’s health insurance and thus the death of a woman from cancer. Except that Romney wasn’t connected to the closing of the firm, the woman continued to have health insurance from another source and her cancer was diagnosed five years after the plant shut down.

Which represents the crossing of an ethical line. If the conduct of the Obama campaign team were universalized, candidates would no longer require any evidence to accuse one another of complicity in a death. To accept this as a new political norm would be to define defamation down.
Because, you know, saying that your opponent favors policies and engaged in business practices that cost working Americans their health insurance is exactly the same as accusing somebody of murder. Suggesting that somebody committed murder, on the other hand, is fair game - as long as the nonsense is directed at a Democrat...
I am admittedly a sucker for rhetorical idealism. But it can’t be a small thing, a typical thing, a trivial thing, to ask for belief and then betray it.
Yeah... like Gerson's "compassionate conservatism". Flushed down the memory hole.

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