Friday, March 16, 2012

NEWS BLOG: Fun and games in the presidential campaign

Posted on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Oh, for heaven's sake. Can't the politicians - and the media - grow up?

The flap over Joe Biden's "back in chains" is just WAY too much.

As City's Tim Macaluso posted yesterday, if you look at the context of Biden's comment, it's hard to conclude that he was saying Romney wants to bring back slavery.

But for the outraged pols, that's not the point. The point is to lob mudballs rather than talking about than substance. So off we go into high offended-ness. Sarah Palin says Biden should resign. Others want the president to kick Biden off the ticket.

Republicans and their supporters in the media aren't the only ones who have sunk to this level. The Obama campaign has thrown its own senseless dirt around.

I'm weary of candidates and the media looking for small slips and diving onto them like vultures. It's not anything new, obviously. I've always thought that poor Gerald Ford was treated mercilessly by the media, as though his occasional slips were an international incident.

And I'm weary of the disrespect. Can't we criticize candidates without spitting on them or laughing at them? Take a look at Dana Milbank's mocking report

Vice President Joe Biden. PHOTO COURTESY CHAD CASSIN

in the Washington Post, on Paul Ryan's speech at an Iowa fair. I usually find Milbank perceptive and enlightening, as well as entertaining. But this piece was simply embarrassing.

And an NPR report over the weekend reminded me of one of the low points in campaign attacks: Texas politician (and later, governor) Ann Richards' "born with a silver foot in his mouth" barb about George HW Bush. Richards tossed out the slur at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, where it got laughter and roars of approval.

And that says it all, doesn't it? To insiders, politics is a game of taunts. It's all just great fun.

For the country, though, the result is likely to be broader and deeper divisions. Less respect for politicians.Lower voter turnout.Less faith in government.

Not much to laugh about, I say.

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