By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – If you missed it, the presidential campaign gaffe of the week last week was Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion to a largely African-American audience that the Republican ticket, if elected, would “put y’all back in chains.”

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Yes, he really said “y’all,” with a drawl not drawn from Biden’s childhood roots in Pennsylvania.

A Globe editorial last week called that “racially insensitive,” and insisted Biden apologize for it.

But there’s been no apology forthcoming, and yesterday on the network talk shows, there was none from campaign surrogates, a stance explained by campaign flack Stephanie Cutter, who refused to even acknowledge Biden had chosen his words poorly.

“If we want to talk about words on the campaign trail that are poor choices of words, let’s talk about Mitt Romney’s,” she told CNN. “He’s been traveling for the last few years basically calling the president un-American…. Those are poor choices of words, and that’s what we find completely offensive.”

In other words, the president’s enemies have gone over the line, so we’re going to do it, too.

And she has a point.

Opposition to policies, however strident, is one thing; the politics of personal destruction are another.

So when some on the right question without basis the president’s status as a native-born American; question his patriotism and even openly claim, also without basis, that he’s trying to destroy our country from within, it’s indecent and below the belt.

Cutter unconvincingly tried to claim that Biden meant to tell the audience they’d be “shackled” by Wall Street malfeasance if Romney wins, and wasn’t indulging in sleazy race-baiting.

Instead, she should just tell the truth – that this campaign is a schoolyard brawl in the gutter, with no rules, no decency, and no high ground in sight.

It is left to you, the voter, to tune out the garbage, and do your homework on the very different ideas offered by the two decent men on the ballot. Unless you’re already chained to a party bandwagon.

In that case, you’re probably enjoying the mudbath.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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