There's no one in the modern news media I admire more than Fareed Zakaria. He somehow manages at the somniferous outpost of CNN a lively, weekly battle of dignified intellectualism ("GPS"), and again in his Washington Post commentary he is almost unfailingly rigorous in his thinking and scrupulously fair.
On a variety of complex issues he presents "real facts and a strong case"--pillars of solid argumentation he also attributes to President Obama's reelection campaign, which, however, Zakaria also finds lacking. To be more precise, he finds it "depressing," because Obama, argues Zakaria, "has focused on half-truths and weak arguments"--just like Mitt Romney.
Let's take a look at the depressing equivalence, per Zakaria this morning:
The [mutual] attacks are, I suppose, inevitable. But let’s be honest: They’re largely untrue or irrelevant. Whatever the paperwork shows, Mitt Romney was not running Bain Capital after February 1999. Even if he had been, outsourcing jobs to lower a company’s costs — and ensure its survival — is not sleazy; it’s how you run a business efficiently. (Is President Obama suggesting that we put up tariff barriers to prevent outsourcing in the future?) On the other side, Romney’s recent claim accusing the president of shoveling government grants to his political supporters was so twisted it earned the Fact Checker’s highest score for distortion — "Four Pinocchios."
Hence Romney's "Four Pinocchios" are situated rather symmetrically "on the other side"; they are nestled in all their hideousness right next to Obama's misapprehension of capitalism's "efficiency" (that would be the destruction of American working-class families so that some shareholders can funnel their profits into foreign tax havens and multiple summer homes), as well as Obama's utterly unstated suggestion of "tariff barriers." (What Obama has suggested is ending tax breaks for domestic firms that ship jobs overseas.)
This--this appalling "sameness" business--in the black-and-white absence of substantiating evidence is unworthy of Zakaria's intellect.
Yes, politics is rough, its participants do tend to careen from exactitude, its charges and countercharges are often stretched beyond the permissible boundaries of a high school debate club. But to compare and contrast (another of secondary education's old bugaboos) the Obama and Romney campaigns' veracity, or rather lack thereof, and conclude, essentially, a standing equilibrium? And after you just sketched a jarring disequilibrium? That's just conformity, Beltway conformity, a journalistic misproof of impressive objectivity by merry equivalence-making--and Zakaria is better than that.