I don't know if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or the folks that run the Republican Party ever studied or read The Wasteland -- T.S. Eliot's monumentally disjointed modernist poem. If they did then perhaps they remember the haunting words with which it opens:
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land . . .
Then too, perhaps they also remember the promise one of the poem's many voices (or speakers) makes in line 30:
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
It seems to me that for Romney, Ryan and The Republican Party -- the "R R & TRP" of this week's title -- it is September, not April, which will likely turn out to be their "cruellest month." And for them, it will have nothing to do with lilacs, dead land or "fear in a handful of dust." Rather, what will make September so incredibly cruel for them is a witch's brew of bad press, lackluster campaigning, pallid poll numbers, and impolitic misstatements made by a standard-bearer who perhaps, when all is said and done, doesn't really want to be president all that much.
Yes indeed, September has been rather cruel to R R &TRP. It began with a slightly amateurish national convention in Tampa at which disdain for President Obama was far louder and more palpable than passion for Governor Romney; a convention whose rhetorical high point was Clint Eastwood speaking to an empty chair. For all their efforts, the Republican ticket received virtually none of the political "bounce" which national conventions traditionally proffer. And, to make matters a bit worse, Tampa was immediately followed by the Democrats' National Convention in Charleston, which by comparison, was a tour-de-force -- sort of like Casablanca versus Any Which Way But Loose.
Then, the Romney camp inexplicably decided to turn their response to attacks on American diplomatic installations in Cairo and Benghazi -- which took the life of 4 Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens -- into a partisan political attack on President Obama. In a late-night communique' issued even before the full extent of attacks were known, Romney said:
I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.