Most people probably think that presidential campaigns are about getting the support of powerful political actors and interest groups. However the NYT told readers that they are wrong to believe this. Instead, the NYT told readers in a headline that:
"philosophical clash over government's role highlights parties divide."
In fact, as the article makes clear there is not really a philosophical clash at stake here. Governor Romney was deliberately misrepresenting a comment made by President Obama to imply that "he does not believe in individual success or the free market."
While the article does it best to tell readers that there are philosophical issues at stake all the evidence suggests that Romney's supporters would like to pay less in taxes so that they will have more money. President Obama is trying to appeal to interest groups that will benefit from government programs like Medicare and student loans.
There is nothing in the article to support its assertion that:
"the choice between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney presents voters with starkly different philosophies about the role of government in American society."
In fact both candidates believe that the government should intervene to provide too big to fail protection to large banks, a subsidy worth tens of billions of dollar a year. They believe that the government should grant drug companies patent monopolies that will increase the cost of drugs by trillions of dollars over the next decade. And both candidates have supported a pattern of selective trade protection that redistributes money from ordinary workers to corporations and highly educated professionals.
These areas of agreement about the government's role in the economy dwarf the areas of difference. The effort of the NYT to inflate the importance of relatively small differences on the government's role and to transform an argument between competing interest groups into a matter of philosophy does not belong in the news section. [Thanks Joe]