What passes for political discourse these days is basically "Did you hear what that asshole said!" Followed by whatever the asshole said.
For example, yesterday -- or the day before -- the President said "The private sector is doing fine." That was one sentence in a much longer talk/press conference, with a wholly different message. He was actually saying, I'm paraphrasing, our econonmy is teetering between going up and going down. If we do this, it's likely to go up. If we don't, it's likely to go down. There are events we can't control, like the monetary crisis in Europe. But there are things we can do here that strengthen the economy so it could take a hit better.
Kind of like your doctor telling you to get plenty of rest during cold season. Make your body stronger so it can withstand the crazy shit that the environment is throwing at it. Or like a commentator on Sports Center saying that Paul Pierce is doing an extra workout to be sure he's ready for the big game tonight. This shit isn't any more complicated than sports.
The same thing happened when Romney said he likes to fire people. At least that's what he said if you listened to the political press. What he actually said was totally reasonable. It's good, if you have a business relationship with someone, to be able to cancel the deal if you don't like the service. He's right! It was a cool thing to say. But the press instead found their DYHWTAS line and ran with it.
The reason it's safe to avoid all this crap is that it doesn't change anyone's votes. If you thought Obama was an asshole before, you'll still think he's an asshole after hearing what he said. Same with Romney. This supposed discourse does nothing but reinforce people's point of view. It makes them happy, I guess, to hear they were right all along.
Instead, the press could react by saying -- Hold on -- Breaking News! -- The President is talking to the American people as if they were adults (or at least sports fans). Let's make this the story! Let's help people understand what he was actually saying. Then the people who think he's an asshole can find the things that reinforce their point of view, and the people who like him can nod their heads and say "That's my guy." Why not be the media they pretend to be, which means being a medium, which means being in the middle, which means basically passing through what happened, without a lot of stupid pointless drama.
In my humble opinion, the assholes are the reporters. And when these stories comes through my river, I just nod my head and say "They're being assholes again." And I keep pressing the downarrow to skip over the bullshit.