Cutting through the "political and media fog":
Policy and the Personal, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: A lot of people inside the Beltway are tut-tutting about the recent campaign focus on Mitt Romney’s personal history ... at Bain Capital... Some of the tut-tutters are upset at any suggestion that this election is about the rich versus the rest. Others decry the personalization: why can’t we just discuss policy?
And neither group is living in the real world. First of all, this election really is ... about the rich versus the rest.
The story so far: ... taxes on the very rich are currently the lowest they’ve been in 80 years. President Obama proposes letting those high-end Bush tax cuts expire; Mr. Romney, on the other hand, proposes big further tax cuts for the wealthy. ... Realistically, those big tax cuts for the rich would be offset, sooner or later, with higher taxes and/or lower benefits for the middle class and the poor.
So as I said, this election is ... about the rich versus the rest, and it would be doing voters a disservice to pretend otherwise.
In that case, however, why not run a campaign based on that substance, and leave Mr. Romney’s personal history alone? The short answer is, get real. ... Perhaps in a better world we could count on the news media to sort through the conflicting claims. ...
So how can the Obama campaign cut through this political and media fog? By talking about Mr. Romney’s personal history, and the way that history resonates with the realities of his pro-rich, anti-middle-class policy proposals.
Thus the entirely true charge that Mr. Romney wants to slash historically low tax rates on the rich even further dovetails perfectly with his own record of extraordinary tax avoidance — so extraordinary that he’s evidently afraid to let voters see his tax returns from before 2010. The equally true charge that he’s pushing policies that would benefit the rich at the expense of ordinary working Americans meshes with Bain’s record of earning big profits even when workers suffered — a record so stark that Mr. Romney is attempting to distance himself from part of it ...
The point is that talking about Mr. Romney’s personal history isn’t a diversion from substantive policy discussion. On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters.