Remember, there is one man who has seen all the Romney tax returns anyone could want, and that man was John McCain during the 2008 VP vetting process, and he decided he'd rather go with Sarah Palin.
Romney did come out with a new ad in which he spoke in front of an assembly of coal miners -- who, as it turns out, were forced by their employer to attend the event and listen to him, and docked pay for their time, too. It's unclear whether he knew these details, but assuming he knows now, the natural instinct of any competent candidate who wasn't a horrid little callous kleptocrat would be to offer to reimburse the miners for their lost pay -- a pittance from his vast wealth, and one that would redeem his image somewhat. But I doubt that idea would even occur to Romney.
Adding this week to a record which includes the Benghazi super-gaffe, the smirk heard round the world, "I'm not concerned about the very poor", "you don't go through a laundry list", the 47% video, the campaign allowing a man arguing with a chair to upstage the candidate's (dismal) convention speech, etc., etc., etc., almost everyone can see the pattern emerging, and it's one that utterly disembowels the core of Romney's appeal. He's running as a super-competent executive, the guy who can take charge of even so vast and complex an enterprise as the United States of America and solve its problems and get it back on track. But if he can't even manage his own campaign any better than this.....
Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan has downgraded her assessment of Romney's campaign from "incompetent" to "rolling calamity". She offered some advice, too, as other Republicans have, but the candidate insists everything is fine, and Ann "Dances with Horses" Romney waved off all those trying to throw buckets of cold water on this Hindenburg disaster with an imperative that may yet win immortality: "Stop it! This is hard!" No wonder Republicans are becoming disgusted and divided and even campaign insiders are in despair.
Some rank-and-file Republicans cling to the hope that the debates will turn this thing around, but historically, debates have not moved the needle much -- unless one candidate commits some huge blunder that makes him look like an idiot. Between Romney and Obama, I don't think it's Obama who's more likely to do that.
As always, it's important not to get complacent. The fact that the polls showing Obama with huge leads also show suspiciously-high Democratic party ID probably doesn't discredit them, but it does mean we can't be sure what they really mean until after the election (though it might turn out to be better news than we expect). We have to fight as if this were the most critical election in living memory, which it likely is -- and as if we could lose, which, never forget, is still possible if we don't give all we can.
One thing I do feel confident in saying: If Romney loses big, as he probably will, the defeat will not suffice to chasten the Nutty faction of Republicans and let the Sane faction regain control. They'll just blame Romney personally for being such a lousy politician, and insist that all they need is a better candidate (I've seen some of them insisting that Santorum or Palin would be cleaning Obama's clock now if they'd been nominated, which gives you some idea of these people's tenuous grip on reality). Oh, the David Frums and Jeb Bushes will try, all right, but their task won't be any less Sisyphean than it is now. On balance it seems more likely that the party will just go even more bonkers. It won't surprise me at all if they actually do nominate Santorum or Palin in 2016. Keep the powder dry.