This piece by Blake Zeff at Buzzfeed debunks the “nastiest campaign ever” whining that’s been going on, using a bunch of good examples. I also liked his examination of the press’ notion that lying about issues is somehow less toxic that other lies, using the Romney welfare lie as an example:
[…] Recall during the GOP primary when Michele Bachmann errantly stated that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation. In this instance, the press was vigilant in correcting her misstatement, and each time she repeated it, her credibility took a hit. This has not happened with Romney on welfare, nor has his deception here generated a fraction of the controversy that has enveloped Harry Reid for speculating about Romney’s tax burden.
This is presumably because any discussion of a policy issue — even a dishonest one — is substantive, since it’s talking about policy… or something.
Also, too: Even though Harry Reid is the worst person in the world for repeating an easily disproved rumor about Romney’s taxes, that’s also ultimately about a core campaign issue. It’s an item of faith that cutting taxes on the rich spurs job creation, and Romney-Ryan advocate continuing across-the-board tax cuts.. The question of what rate Romney pays, and how he avoided taxes, is relevant to that discussion, even if it makes the ghost of David Broder shed salty tears.