Once upon a time Newsweek magazine had, arguably, the best political coverage in the business (full disclosure: I'm a former staffer). Stocked with star reporters, columnists and writers, it blanketed the presidential races, often set the tone for other journalists and produced a closely read election book every four years. So when Newsweek turned out a cover like "Fighting the 'Wimp Factor'" in 1987, raising questions about whether George H.W. Bush was tough enough to be president, stuff happened: pundits went into overdrive, campaign flunkies got angry, and the magazine had impact. But when Newsweek tried to do a "Wimp Factor" cover again a few weeks ago -- this time about Mitt Romney -- no one seemed to care very much.
The conventional wisdom that has long dictated vice presidential politicking can be boiled down to a pair of hard and fast rules. Number One: do no harm. Number Two: never allow the bottom of the ticket to overshadow the top of the ticket.
Has a Pennsylvania court done what the Romney campaign has been unable to: Erase President Obama's advantage in the state?
Joe Biden and Paul Ryan were the Capitol Hill veterans known for friendly relations - sometimes even working relations - across the aisle. Mitt Romney was the competent pragmatist who turned around the 2002 Olympics and enacted health coverage for almost everyone in Massachusetts. Barack Obama was the youthful symbol of hope and change.
Where are these people and will we ever see them again?
The latest exchange of Campaign 2012 - Romney calling Obama a desperate, angry candidate running a reckless, hate-filled campaign, and Obama's team responding by calling Romney "unhinged" - was the most ferocious so far. This is not a campaign destined to enhance reputations. The only question is how much wreckage it leaves behind.
In politics, nothing says you're the future more than getting a coveted prime time speaking slot at a national convention. Except when it doesn't. Keep that in mind as the two parties fill those slots for the upcoming conventions in Tampa and Charlotte. It can get pretty confusing.
Ever since Mitt Romney named Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick, he's been touting the Wisconsin Republican's bipartisan credentials. "This guy's a real leader," Romney said in their joint 60 Minutes appearance. "He's reached across the aisle. He's worked with Democrats, Republicans. Tried to take on the toughest issues America faces."
Should Mitt Romney win, would Vice President Elect Paul Ryan remain in the House until inauguration day? It's a cart-before-the-House question but an intriguing one.
Romney-Ryan constitutes, very possibly, the best-looking ticket in American political history. Mitt Romney is so textbook handsome that he resembles a toy action-figure president. Paul Ryan's youthful, chiseled face and piercing blue eyes are already making hearts flutter around the political world. And no doubt Romney's bold choice for veep - which has made most people forget, for the moment, Bain Capital and his undisclosed tax returns-- will give the Republican presumptive nominee some pop in the polls. For the moment.
But once the excitement surrounding Ryan subsides, the long, ideological slog of this presidential race will resume, and with greater force than before. The stakes will be, once again, about the stark conceptual choice that American voters now face. Romney's selection of Ryan must be seen as part of a continuum of hard-line positions that the GOP candidate, under constant pressure from an often hostile right, has laid out on everything from immigration to health care to foreign policy.
And with his veep choice Romney is sending a message to the American electorate, more forthrightly than ever, that he won't be moving to the middle after all. He seems to be affirming that he is just about as ideologically conservative and as captured by the GOP base as Obama has been painting him.
Watching Mitt Romney on the campaign trail this weekend
Mitt Romney has changed the subject on two fronts with his interesting choice of running mate. At least for the moment people are talking about the soon-to-be Republican nominee's boldness instead of his taxes or Bain Capital career. And he has certainly ensured that government spending will be front and center in the presidential campaign.
But, as House Speaker John Boehner often has asked, where are the jobs?