Mitt Romney's outrage isn't working, and his campaign has the whiff of panic right now. Instead of a smart response on Bain, it attacked the attack. As Ed put it, President Obama has reached "a new low" with his campaign's accusations. But is it lower than questioning whether Obama is a Christian or whether he was born in the United States? Lower than swiftboating, Willie Horton or, for those who can remember, saying that a candidate for South Carolina governor had "been hooked up to jumper cables" to slime him as crazy?
Come on. No one hits the low road better than Republicans. They have no credibility when they decry negative politics; it's an insult to the pot and to the kettle.
Romney is now moving on to another attack that he believes has more promise — namely, that Obama gave jobs to campaign contributors instead of to the middle class. This, too, will fail because it requires people to believe that Obama is a sleazy, graft-ridden president. Even the majority of Republicans won't believe that.
Meanwhile, another storm, much more powerful than the Romney attack against Obama's jobs record, is brewing. Maybe it will be another chapter in the Bain saga, or maybe the tax returns. Does Romney really think he will make it to November without more financial disclosure?
Romney needs a game changer. But it won't come from a new negative ad or the announcement of a running mate. Instead, it has to come from him. It's time for Romney to answer "wth" (why the heck) he wants to be president. And it has to be more than tax cuts, less regulation and no Obamacare. That will get him 49 percent and change of the electorate, but it won't win.
It is tempting, I'm sure, for Romney to think he'll win by playing it safe. After all, the race is tied, and Obama has outspent him (so far) and had the luxury of no primaries. The economy is still bad and the money advantage is being erased. But Romney isn't playing it safe right now. Instead, he's rolling around in the mud with the Chicago gang and his pressed chinos are getting really dirty.