Was Obama simply telling the black pastors what they wanted to hear or did he actually believe that the federal government's response to Katrina was affected by racism?
There is a difference; the first is shameless pandering while the second speaks to a core belief.
The spin machines further complicate matters. Romney didn't completely back away from the 47 percent comment, but did say it was "not elegantly stated."
The Obama campaign did not address the content of the 2007 video, instead saying its release was "wrong" and "irresponsible."
No matter how long a campaign drags on, voters still may be left wondering what a candidate really stands for. At the behest of consultants, candidates eschew controversial positions, instead offering catchy sound bites and oversimplifications mixed with, yes, a healthy dose of pandering.
As a result, our politics are dumbed down as candidates tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.
And that's a shame, because it stands in the way of an informed electorate, which is part of the foundation of our democracy.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.