Tonight's debate is the last chance for a conversation America desperately needs to have

The Democrats have not been slackers in the art of trivializing important public policy questions, either. Romney’s selection of budget-cutting House member Paul Ryan as his running mate could have jump-started a serious dialogue between the two parties about how the nation’s huge entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — should be reformed to make them sustainable. Ryan has proposed some interesting and specific ideas in this area, particularly regarding Medicare.

They may be good ideas, and they may be bad ones. But instead of engaging them, the Democrats took to attacking Ryan personally, deliberately mischaracterizing his proposals. Although the House Republican plan specifically requires insurance companies to offer coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries, Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz falsely claimed that the GOP plan would deny health care to seniors with preexisting medical conditions. Actually, the way she put it, with a straight face, was that Republicans “would throw you to the wolves.”…

The nadir of the 2012 campaign — at least so far — was probably an Obama super-PAC ad featuring a familiar Romney-bashing steelworker who maintained that Bain Capital had essentially killed his wife by buying GST Steel, looting it, and then closing it down, thus depriving his family of medical care. A “short time after that,” the steelworker claims, his wife died of cancer that was late in being diagnosed because the family lacked insurance.