The unnecessarily frenzied handwringing over Barack, Biden, and Bain

The press keeps seizing on the ethics and effectiveness of Bain attacks, and imagining Obama dumping Biden for Clinton. Enough of this nonsense

Robert Shrum

We are in the season of political skywriting — of stories that capture attention, but not the decisive realities of the presidential contest. For all but tabloid purposes, why pay attention to the ravings of Donald Trump — except to score a minor point against Mitt Romney for taint by association with a comb-over in a clown suit?

The fundamentals of 2012 are set now and should be entirely visible even if they don't dominate a 24-hour information cycle ravenous for the latest titillation or speculation. That is all but inevitable as we cross from the pyrotechnics of the primaries, which provided real if weird news like Rick Perry's campaign-killing brain freeze, to the ramp-up of the ad wars and the run-up to the conventions and debates. The ads have just begun, and even early results are not yet in. The latter two events are a summer away. The interregnum invites the rise of sideshow stories — which, in recent days, featured hand-wringing over Obama's ads about Bain and recycled theories about dumping Joe Biden.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.