-By Warner Todd Huston
Now that Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan for his running mate, Politico finds itself finally ready to compare the stump claims and campaign ads of the two campaigns. But instead of looking at gutter ads like Obama's claiming Mitt Romney killed a steel worker's wife, Politico thinks it's better to compare ads and rhetoric focused on Medicare.
Calling it the "Mediscare" campaign, Politico's piece is a long comparison of Obama's and Romney's claims of how each other would treat Medicare. This is certainly a useful discussion, to be sure, but where is Politico's piece comparing Romney's mild campaign thus far to the cynical, lie-filled attacks that Obama and Joe Biden as well as all their minions have launched at team Romney over the last few months?
Wouldn't it have been useful to compare Romney's issues-based campaign claims to Obama's claiming that Romney killed a man's wife or even this week's claim from Biden who told an African American audience that Romney and Ryan want to bring back the black slave trade? (And worse, Biden even resorted to "black dialect" to do it!)
Or how about when Obama again went back to the decades old story that Romney once put his dog on the roof of his car? Of course, since the President admitted in one of his many autobiographies that he once ate a dog when he lived in Indonesia, one has to wonder which is worse, a dog on the roof of your car or a dog on the roof of your mouth?
Still, it is interesting that Politico wasn't in the comparing mood when for the last two months as we've gotten one low blow, one lie, and one calumny after another about Romney from Obama, Biden and their surrogates, Romney has pretty much just stuck to the issues with his stump speeches and campaign ads.
But two things leap out quickly in the story. The first is that Politico cites the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as its expert on the Medicare debate. The CBPP is a think tank created by a Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton operative, yet Politico doesn't bother to note its lean to the left. CBPP receives funding from such left-wing sources as The Rockefeller Foundation, Working Assets, and the Brookings Institute but we aren't told any of this in the story. The CBPP is one of the most vocal proponents of a higher minimum wage, for instance. Still, the CBPP is presented as some non-partisan group of budget experts in the Politico piece.
The second thing that pops out immediately is that Politico buries the fact that Politifact rated Obama's claims that Ryan's budget reform plan would "end Medicare" as the "lie of the year" for 2011. This fact did make an appearance in the Politico story -- and kudos to them for that, at least -- but not until deep down in the body of the piece.
It is a useful conversation to have comparing Romney's and Obama's positions on Medicare. But there is also something to be said about comparing the tenor of the two campaigns. Romney's is a serious, issue-oriented strategy, while Obama's attacks are exactly the sort of ignorant, hate-filled political attacks that all Americans continue to say turns their stomach.