One thing that is sort of a mystery here is how Romney could be this bad at managing a campaign operation. Wasn't managing supposed to be his thing?
But he has totally lost control of things. He's lost control of his campaign. When the on-background finger-pointing starts in September, you're screwed. I covered Rick Lazio's losing campaign against Hillary in 2000. At least his don't-blame-me stories didn't start running until October!
He's lost control of his message. Mr. Economic Competence has become half Buck Turgidson and half Ebeneezer Scrooge. Neither much of a vote-getter.
He's lost control of Bibi, who, as I wrote yesterday, has the ability to hurt him more than help him. Part II of the MoJo Video, the part where Romney discusses the Middle East, shows us a man who is fretting about what Bibi will think with nearly every sentence he utters. This one won't hurt politically, but it's just inexcusable and ill-informed for someone who wants to be president to say he'll just ignore this problem and hope something changes--and for him to group all Palestinians together as obstructionists, as if Fayyad did not exist. And: the airport?? People, that ain't the issue.
He's lost control of the Republican Party. As I've written before, nominees generally put their stamp on their party. In extraordinary cases, like Bill Clinton's, say, they bring it along to places where the rank-and-file didn't especially want to go. Romney has put no stamp at all on the GOP. Quite the reverse, in fact. I can't think of another election in my adult lifetime when the party did not, to some extent, adapt itself to suit the image of its standard-bearer. Maybe Mike Dukakis.
It wouldn't shock me to see him start losing some support on the right. When Bill Kristol writes this:
It's worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors (who might well "believe they are entitled to heath care," a position Romney agrees with), as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they're not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.
...you have problems. As I wrote this morning, it's true right now that right-wing pundits are trying to rah-rah his statements. But deep down, surely people know that this isn't good. Even if they agree with him, they know this is problematic. And Kristol's comments will prove influential, I think. Romney's remarks have given conservatives reason to vent their rage at liberals and the media. But genuine enthusiasm, something positive to make supporters' breasts swell, no.
He won't tank in the polls. This isn't that kind of race. But he is a candidate totally at the mercy of the currents and winds. Doesn't exactly recommend him as the guy who should be running the country.