The Obama campaign, according to the New York Times, has a very serious honesty problem. And, in a way, it’s Mitt Romney’s fault, they suggest. The old “Republicans made me do it” excuse is often trotted out in an election year. In 2008, when Obama put a stake through the heart of public financing—a cause liberals championed—by promising to use the system and then reneging on that promise when it became clear he would raise far more money than his Republican opponent, the Times bought the explanation that somehow it was the Republicans’ fault. (The Washington Post, to its credit, didn’t.)

But now it turns out that the 2012 Obama campaign has built its argument against the Romney-Ryan ticket on a slew of falsehoods so obvious that the Times seems to openly wonder what Obama could be thinking. The Obama campaign’s claims fall into two main categories, according to the story: (1.) Made up out of whole cloth; and (2.) based on figures the campaign knows aren’t accurate. The story beings with the Obama camp’s claims that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class and that his Medicare plan could raise seniors’ costs by over $6,000. The Times explains:

In making such assertions, the Obama campaign is taking advantage of the many unknown details of Mr. Romney’s policy proposals by filling in the blanks in the least flattering light, often relying on the findings of research organizations. In doing so, the campaign has leveled some charges that are more specific than the known facts warrant and others that are most likely wrong — though Mr. Romney’s decision not to provide more detailed explanations of his Medicare and tax proposals have made it difficult to provide a fuller evaluation of some of the competing assertions.

The outdated charge that future Medicare beneficiaries could face $6,400 in higher costs comes from an analysis of an old proposal by Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, that has since been revised, a point that President Obama himself acknowledged in a speech last week. And the assertion that Mr. Romney would raise taxes on the middle class — contrary to his oft-repeated pledge not to — is based on an independent analysis of his tax plan that found it was “not mathematically possible” for his plan to achieve all of its goals without raising taxes on the middle class.

Now, as both campaigns prepare for the first Obama-Romney debate next week, Republicans have been signaling that they plan to more aggressively question the accuracy of the Obama campaign’s assertions. The Obama campaign has run ads distorting Mr. Romney’s abortion position; Republicans and some independent groups have questioned the president’s decision to count the savings the come from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan toward deficit reduction; and Mr. Obama recently said incorrectly that Operation Fast and Furious, a botched gun trafficking case, began during George W. Bush’s administration. (A similar program was started under Mr. Bush, but Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009.)

You have to love the insinuation that Obama wouldn’t have to resort to this if only Romney would release more information. Did Romney put out a plan that would raise taxes on the middle class? No—but that’s just not good enough. You can see how easily this game can slip into the ridiculous.

This destroys a beloved liberal narrative of the election that the Obama campaign has been more honest and high-minded than the Romney campaign. The Obama campaign’s flagrant dishonesty has reached a point at which its defenders are running out of excuses, and fast.

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