We have reached a point in the 2012 campaign when you long for a referee -- someone with a whistle to call foul and declare that one side has so discredited itself that it must forfeit points or be otherwise disqualified.
Nancy Pelosi, the leader who warned that we were losing "500 million jobs a month" without the stimulus bill and who said "God bless them" regarding Occupy Wall Street but condemned the tea party as "AstroTurf," has declared that the Republican Party supports E. coli. True, it's not news when Pelosi mangles the facts. But until her colleagues demote her, she remains the leader of House Democrats. Speaking at a fundraiser, she described the Republican Party as follows: "It's an ideology. We shouldn't have a government role. So reduce the police, the fire, the teachers -- reduce their role." As a mother, she continued, "You could depend on the government for one thing -- it was about, you had to be able to trust the water that our kids drank and the food that they ate. But this is the E. coli club. They do not want to spend money to do that."
In an ideal world, a loud buzzer would issue from the heavens. Foul! The Democrats have presided over an expansion of the welfare state to the point where 1 in 3 American households now receive some form of welfare. That's 100 million Americans receiving benefits -- excluding those receiving Social Security, Medicare and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Yet to suggest that the federal government must reduce the rate of increase in federal spending -- or even to cut back to the comparatively sane levels of spending that prevailed under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- is to be the party of E. coli. Maybe Pelosi should stick to theology. She once explained that the Catholic Church didn't oppose abortion.
Don't look to the other body for relief. The Senate majority leader, who holds a post usually associated with at least a minimal level of dignity, has descended into outright McCarthyism -- claiming that "the word is out" that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes in 10 years. How did the "word" get out? Some anonymous caller supposedly told it to Harry Reid. Where's that buzzer? An equivalent accusation would be for John Boehner to announce that "the word is out" that Barack Obama quietly and illegally gutted the work requirements in the welfare reform law passed in 1996. Oh, wait ...
Now, an Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA, has issued an ad that is so cartoonish that it seems to have come straight from The Onion. A former employee of GST Steel, Joe Soptic, accuses Mitt Romney of closing the plant. Actually, the plant was shut down two years after Romney left Bain. Soptic then relates that his wife became ill, but because he had lost his health coverage due to the plant closing, she couldn't afford health coverage and died of cancer. Not quite. The plant closed in 2001. She died in 2006. Ranae Soptic didn't lose health coverage because of what happened to her husband. She was covered by her own employer, until an injury caused her to lose her job. The ad closes with Soptic saying, "I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned." Buzz.
As CNN and others have noted, Soptic has cooperated with the Obama campaign before and appeared in an Obama ad back in May -- though, oddly, Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs insists that he "doesn't know the specifics of this woman's case." Bain bought the troubled steel company, couldn't revive it and closed it. It's possible that if Bain hadn't invested in the company, it would have closed in 1993 instead of 2001. It's possible that even if Ranae Soptic's cancer had been detected earlier, she would have died anyway. It's possible that Joe Soptic might have contracted cancer if the plant had remained open, leaving his wife a widow. Who knows? The beat of a butterfly's wings in Bolivia supposedly can cause a thunderstorm in Bangor. But never let a misfortune go to waste when you can accuse your opponent of murder.
This has become the season of Democrat disgrace. Beyond running the dirtiest, emptiest and most deceptive campaign in memory, the party has demonstrated a total incapacity to govern. The Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget -- the sine qua non of governing -- in more than three years. Under Reid's leadership, no budget resolution has even been brought to the floor. The federal debt, under Barack Obama, has increased by more than $5 trillion in less than four years. The economy is stalled. After saying (in a nonelection year) that he lacked the power unilaterally to alter immigration laws, the president did exactly that. The administration was so heedless of national security in its haste to laud Obama's accomplishments that even the usually phlegmatic former Obama administration secretary of defense, Robert Gates, felt obliged to tell the president's national security advisor to "shut the f--- up."
There is no cosmic buzzer. It's all up to us voters.