The 2012 race has produced a series of earnest, left-wing Republican bashing. In arguing that the “popular things (President Barack Obama) wants to do are being blocked by Republicans,” E.J. Dionne Jr. contributed to the genre.

In this case, Obama wants to raise some taxes; Republicans don’t want to raise anyone’s taxes. To the left, the gesture of a tax increase is more important than doing what’s right for the economy. To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, opposition to gratuitously wounding the economy is no vice.

People have tunnel vision if all they see is Republicans causing gridlock. No one thinks that if Republicans and Democrats suddenly raised taxes and the government were a little bigger, the economy would be better off. But the president doesn’t have an economic plan — he has an ideological viewpoint and a political wedge issue that he cynically manipulates.

Consider what the president hasn’t done and isn’t doing. Gridlock takes two, but Obama proves you can dither and be ineffective all by yourself.

Obama unveils unrealistic plans, and Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in three years. If Obama cared, we would see more action on trade agreements.

He blocked the mammoth job creator and energy security program that is the Keystone XL pipeline all by himself. He dithered on immigration before it became politically expedient to do some unconstitutional grandstanding.

He is leading from behind (again) while Syria collapses. Afghanistan is deteriorating. While the ditherer in chief hopes that nobody notices, Iran ignores Obama and readies for war. He chatters on the sidelines while the eurozone economies slow American job growth.

We can’t have an honest debate if everything is painted as the Republicans’ fault.

If anything, Mitt Romney and Republicans have been forced to respond in kind to the low level of discourse. As a result, voters see little more than finger-pointing and mud wrestling.

Given the state of the economy and Obama’s performance to date, that’s just the distraction he needs.

Ed Rogers is a co-host of The Insiders blog, offering commentary from a conservative perspective on Election 2012. This column was distributed by The Washington Post, where it first appeared.

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