Time magazine's Joe Klein is a notorious hack, no two ways about it, with decades of evidence to back it up. But in his latest installment of "But they do it too!", he goes farther into realms of false equivalency that are not just noxious, as usual, but truly bizarre. How anyone can claim, with a straight face, that the current Bain attacks follow the same line of descent as the Willie Horton attacks against Dukakis in 1988, or even the Swift-boating of John Kerry in 2004 is beyond me. Such a master of self-delusion and cynicism is Joe Klein, that he cares so little about the methods of political attack, and is solely concerned with the outcomes. In Klein's world, where politics are an amoral game, the ends always justify the means.
And naturally when Klein regaled a group on NBCNews's Morning Joe with his stunning insight Republicans Joe Scarborough and Bushie Dan Senor could barely contain their glee, loving every minute of it.
Mitt Romney is experiencing a Dukakis-like summer playing defense. The Obama campaign has also constructed a brilliant coffin, custom-made for a turnaround artist. There are many nails in this coffin, some more important than others. The nails are being hammered in a natural progression. There is a logic to this. The current controversy over whether Romney was or was not running Bain capital during the years 1999-2002 is a relatively minor nail–the functional equivalent of the Pledge of Allegiance. Bain was involved in the global economy during those years. This meant outsourcing jobs to places like Mexico and China, which meant the creative destruction of obsolete jobs here at home. Whether Romney was directing them or not, these activities were perfectly legal. That doesn’t matter, though: there is confusion about why he was still listed as the boss if he wasn’t really the boss, which seems shifty. And there’s the question of why he was making tons of money if he wasn’t the boss, which is what this is really all about.
Indeed, that’s the Willie Horton argument building against Romney. Democrats were appalled by the Horton ads (the most devastating was produced by an “independent” committee, “unrelated” to the Bush campaign). They were, allegedly, racist. Horton was black. But they cut to the heart of a significant problem the Democratic Party had at the time: it was sort of soft on crime, in the midst of the post-Vietnam left’s “they’re depraved because they’re deprived” delusion. And Mitt Romney’s Willie Horton? His tax returns.