When did it become acceptable for a campaign for president of the United States of America to smear a great American city?
I'm not from Chicago. I have no particular rooting interest in the Windy City. To me, it's just part of the nation that Mitt Romney wants to help govern. And yet, as The New York Times reported: "The Romney campaign's response will be to call out (President) Obama's 'Chicago-style politics and Chicago-style economics,'" a senior adviser, Ed Gillespie, told reporters on a conference call.
Presumably, Chicago isn't part of what Sarah Palin called "real America." Palin was hit pretty hard for that comment during the 2008 campaign, but it's the logical end point for a party that has been running against "San Francisco liberals" for 30 years - a party for which a logical attack line against Romney during the nomination campaign was to call him a "Massachusetts moderate." Why not? After all, Republicans ran against "Taxachusetts" in 1988.
Doesn't anyone else find these attacks absolutely unpatriotic?
Granted, everyone is going to hit governors for whatever faults of their states can plausibly be tied to their tenure. We saw some of that in the Republican primaries, with the candidates exchanging claims about the relative standings of Texas, Massachusetts and Utah in various rankings; that seems totally within bounds to me, if probably only marginally linked to the in-office performances of Romney, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman. From what I recall, Al Gore stayed similarly within bounds in 2000 when running against George W. Bush, though liberals have been known to make sneering comments about Texas and the South.
But running for national office by bashing specific cities and states? It's a disgrace. Anyone who loves this nation, and anyone who spoke up against Palin's "real America" statement, should be calling out Romney and his surrogates every time they do such a thing.
Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist and a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, for which he wrote this commentary.