Politico is generally known to lean left, which makes this story running today all the more damning: "Verdict is in: Obama levels more personal attacks."
This is a dazzling statement of the obvious -- can anyone recall the Romney campaign, like Obama's, refusing to repudiate a false story that the candidate was responsible for a woman's death?!
Nevertheless, it is a significant development that an "inside the Beltway" publication like Politico would (1) be disenchanted enough with Obama to run such a piece; and (2) would feel "safe" enough from any fear of other elite media criticism to do so. Here is some of what the story says:
With a few exceptions, Romney has maintained that Obama is a bad president who has turned to desperate tactics to try to save himself. But Romney has not made the case that Obama is a bad person, nor made a sustained critique of his morality a central feature of his campaign.
Obama, who first sprang to national attention with an appeal to civility, has made these kind of attacks central to his strategy. The argument, by implication from Obama and directly from his surrogates, is not merely that Romney is the wrong choice for president but that there is something fundamentally wrong with him.
To make the case, Obama and his aides have used an arsenal of techniques — personal ridicule, suggestions of ethical misdeeds and aspersions against Romney’s patriotism — that many voters and commentators claim to abhor, even as the tactics have regularly proved effective.
Politico being Politico, of course it goes on partly to excuse President Obama's mudslinging on the grounds that "Obama, over four years, has been subjected to so many personal assaults fro the right, on issues such as whether he is lying abou this place of birth or the content of his college transcripts."
But as I noted here yesterday, when it comes to personal attacks, President Obama has actually had it pretty easy compared to George W. Bush (I don't recall anyone putting out assassination entertainment about Obama, or calling him "Chimpy McHitler," or claiming that he lied in order to put our nation's troops at risk). Somehow, I doubt that the George W. Bush 2004 campaign would have been excused on these grounds had it cast aspersions on John Kerry's patriotism (as Obama himself did about Bush) or made unproven claims of ethical misdeeds. Indeed, we are all supposed to wear sackcloth and ashes because John Kerry's Swift Boat comrades disagreed with Kerry's assessment of his own behavior in Vietnam -- and in fact, there were objective falsehoods in Kerry's claims of war heroism.
In fact, President Obama and his surrogates have done plenty of negative campaigning, as John McCain pointed out in 2008
. It's just that, up to now, he's never been desperate enough to have to go personally negative -- or had a press that was willing to report it.