By Chez Pazienza: I'm not exactly breaking any new ground by saying this, but the Romney campaign is a fucking mess right now.
A month or so ago, I wrote a column here explaining how I honestly believe that Mitt Romney may be the worst candidate the GOP has nominated for president in my lifetime, if not much longer than that. Not only is he a terrible guy to nominate at this point in our nation's history, after all we've been through lately -- an unapologetic plutocrat for whom throwing huge sums of money at a problem is always the answer and the only thing he truly understands -- but he's also thoroughly incapable of relating to people in a way that comes off as anything more than a probe droid attempting to assimilate their behavior and culture in the interest of facilitating their inevitable enslavement at the hands of the overlords of his home planet.
Sure, a lot of Republicans would vote for a Ziploc bag filled with warm diarrhea come November rather than face seeing the black progressive in the White House for another four years, but nobody with a semi-functional brain in his or her head is actually excited about Mitt Romney. The guy's a dud in every measurable way and his campaign has been a steady exercise in incompetence.
Last week, the Democrats hammered Romney, his goofball lackey Paul Ryan and their designs on the highest offices in the land -- to say nothing of the Republican worldview in general -- displaying a titanium spine and a skill at political gamesmanship that I honestly wasn't sure the party whose symbol is an actual jackass was capable of. The Democrats were on fire and they've gotten a pretty sizable bounce in the polls as a reward for their trouble. Barack Obama is widening his lead nationally, according to Gallup and Rasmussen, and while anything is possible between now and election day it's worth noting that even though the race has been tight at times, Obama has always been on top of Romney, which doesn't bode well for the challenger. Obama certainly doesn't have the race locked up, but it's somewhat stunning the way he and his party have managed to grab the national imagination in a way that the Republicans used to but can't seem to anymore -- at least not with Romney as the "heart and soul" of the GOP.
So with public perception and its poll position taking a major hit, how is the Romney camp responding? By claiming that there's nothing to see here and that, contrary to what you might have heard from the liberal media, everything's going just fine for Romney. In fact, it's Obama who's in a state of panic right now. Yeah, that's the ticket. Also, Joe Biden is a registered sex offender.
The fact that the Romney campaign is fighting back with delusion, hallucination and an otherwise complete detachment from reality isn't surprising; it's been the Romney way since the very beginning and certainly since the GOP Clown Car Primary inexplicably left Mitt in the position of being the last man standing. The lack of focus from the Romney camp has been outdone only by its passionate embrace of "facts" that it and it alone seems to think are for real. Trying to "reimagine" a bad situation and paint everything as coming up roses is just par for the course.
With that in mind, and going a long way toward giving the Romney people more ammo for their contention that the liberal media boogeyman is simply trying to derail a Republican again, one of the most truly surprising elements of the presidential campaign over the past couple of weeks has been the press's unwillingness to allow Paul Ryan to get away with spouting his usual bullshit. Over the weekend, CBS News's Norah O'Donnell held Ryan's feet to the white hot flame of his own words and actions, hitting him hard for his relentless criticism of Obama for supposedly cutting defense spending while refusing to acknowledge that he himself voted for the same cuts. Ryan, unsurprisingly, was deflective, smarmy and thoroughly unable to defend himself, instead rattling off a series of big numbers and big words in the hope, presumably, that it would fool people into buying into his quickly fading reputation for being a serious guy with serious ideas. It's interesting to see the press do its job for a change, although there's no denying that Ryan sliced open his own carotid artery and let himself bleed out into shark-infested waters by lying so brazenly during the Republican National Convention, no doubt with the assumption that nobody would bust him on it. The media can be worthless but even they don't like being made fools of with such audacity.
Bottom line: Things really aren't going well for the Romney campaign right now. Again, that certainly doesn't mean that he can't win -- after all, a new poll of Ohio Republicans shows that 15% of them believe Romney had more to do with the death of Osama bin Laden than President Obama -- but it's going to take a lot more than misdirection, spin and general horseshit for Romney and Ryan to truly connect with voters in a way that allows them to overtake Obama in the polls.
Can they do it? Not if their political skills up until now are any indication.