I've been avoiding the thread because I find myself too passionate and would be VERY prone to reactionary posts that would inappropriate for the tone of the thread that Jason's trying to achieve. However, in answering Jason's questions...
Originally Posted by JasonEvans
1) How's Romney doing? Not well. He's been unable to make up any significant ground in the swing states, and he's going to lose if he doesn't start getting a significant lead in most of those pretty soon. All the huffing and puffing and huffposting won't make one iota of difference unless he can turn all those slight-Obama-lean states into red states, and soon.
Why is that? I think he's utterly failed to take the offensive in this election. By that, I don't mean he needs to do heavy negative campaigning. I mean, he needs to frame the discussion of this election, and he's been totally unable to do so. He needs this election to be focused on a lingering bad economy, the perceived failure of the Stimulus, the growth of the debt, and Obama's foreign policy failures (mainly Afghanistan and Iran). (btw, I don't mean to imply that the economy is Obama's fault, the Stimulus was a failure, the debt is Obama's fault, or that Obama's foreign policy has been a disaster...but Romney has an avenue on all those issues to point out that Obama hasn't been particularly successful either). Instead, the election has been about gay marriage, Chick-fil-A, Romney's taxes, the consumption and transportation of dogs, Bain Capital, outsourcing, steelworkers dead wives, Akin, etc, etc, etc. Basically, if you're an incumbent without any major successes (except for some nice work by Seal Team 6) to run on, you're sitting on a crappy economy, Europe is trying to come apart, Iran and Isreal are getting ready to throw down, and the election is about one distraction after another, you're winning.
2) The Tax Non-Disclosure question - answered above. Romney allowed what's probably a non-issue to become a major campaign issue, distracting from what ought to be his core measure. Major failure. He should have disclosed his taxes during the Republican primary (which he was going to win no matter what), dealt with optics or itemized used underwear or whatever back then, and let it turn into a dead issue by June.
3) Ryan - best move of the campaign so far by Romney. That immediately energized the Republican base, first and foremost, which is important because the only way Romney wins is to get the base to the voting booth in big, big numbers in the swing states. More importantly, Ryan is known for one thing and one thing only on the national stage - aggressive deficit reduction proposals and shrinking the rate of budget growth. One thing that most Americans agree on is that the debt is too big, and the rate of growth of the debt is concerning. Ryan is one of the few guys in Washington who appears to be willing to have a serious conversation about that, and make some unpopular suggestions about how to tackle the problem. He comes at it from a budget control point of view, so his proposals are going to be unpopular with many. But at least he's willing to step up and address the problem, and I think that many people are mostly sick of seeing Washington avoiding tough decisions, and kicking the can down the road while grandstanding, squabbling, and engaging in that ill-defined but despised practice of "business as usual". There seems to be a respect for Ryan, even among people who disagree with the specifics of his proposals. Mostly, Ryan almost automatically brings economy and debt into the discussion, which, getting back to point 1, is what Romney desperately needs.
Romney will need to deal with the downside of Ryan (the fact that he's actually taken some stands in his career, and therefore has a record to go after), but Ryan's upside seriously outweighs his downside. All of us fiscal conservative types are really looking forward to the Ryan-Biden debate. It won't change the election, but it'll be fun viewing. And Ryan will probably come up with something better than "There you go again, Joe."
Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."