One of the main leitmotifs of conservative criticism of Barack Obama since he began running for office is that there's something foreign about him -- maybe he wasn't born here, maybe he doesn't worship America's dominant religion, and even if those things aren't true, well, he's just somehow not American. These attacks have always been false, ugly, and xenophobic, and there isn't much evidence that they really worked, other than to rile up people who would never have supported him anyway.
Sarah Palin, who called President Barack Obama's health plan "downright evil" because, she alleged, it would create "death panels" denying care to the neediest Americans (AP/Stephan Savoia)
When someone is propagating falsehoods about a matter of public debate, someone else will often say, "You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts." In other words, we can only have a reasonable debate if we agree on what the facts are. We may disagree about which facts are more important than others, but if you believe, say, that the Affordable Care Act establishes "death panels" before which seniors and the disabled have to beg for their lives, and I assert that the act does no such thing, we won't be able to have a fruitful discussion about whether the ACA is a good thing until we can get past the factual disagreement. Without a common set of facts, we can't come to conclusions, because all we will do is argue about what's true.
At the risk of becoming a broken record (Note to the kids: "records" were a method of playing music in the last century), let me point out this bit of maddening advertising from Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson, the latest candidate to make "I know nothing about this job, so please hire me for it" the centerpiece of his campaign:
You've probably heard that one thing that is bound to doom Democrats this November is the "enthusiasm gap," the fact that polls show Republicans far more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats. As Nate Silver tells us, this is really a turnout gap, and it's more about Republicans than Democrats. The Democratic base isn't actually particularly "dispirited," as we've heard -- they seem ready to turn out at something like historically consistent levels. What is likely to make the difference is that Republicans are really, really ready to turn out.