Republican strategists--those outside the Romney camp--have been blowing this weird variation of taps since Tampa. As E.J. Dionne puts it this morning, "Even conservatives have conceded that Romney left a huge opening by doing little to specify what he would do in office."
These conservative critiques are in translation just self-serving eulogies, of course. Non-aligned strategists perceive that Romney-Ryan are going down, so they're rehearsing and fine-tuning today their postmortem I-told-you-sos for tomorrow. "Oh, the agony, if only Romney had done more to specify what he would do in office."
You have probably observed, though, that these ideological critics aren't exactly human geysers of fresh, detailed information themselves. They point fingers, but they do not show their own way. They visibly fuss and wallow in pity, though you may have also noticed that they don't appear all that anguished.
There are at least three underlying reasons for this. One, they can't stomach Romney either; so to blazes, let him go softly. Two, these are "conservative" critics who appreciate that they will personally prosper--on the speaking circuit, in books and blogospheric commentary, on talk shows, etc.--much more with President Obama as a protracted target of opportunity than with a President Romney as a quivering object in need of endless defense. And three--foreshadowed above--in reality they're absent much of anything to add to Romney's campaign repertoire.
In an economic slump such as this, there are, after all, only three courses of action. The first is to do either absolutely nothing or very little--the Grover Cleveland or Herbert Hoover approach (even what little the latter did would have horrified the former). In the modern age, no sane politician would openly ponder Door #1.
The second and third courses of action are of course to flood the bottomfields with federal cash or to pump the money straight to the top. In Course Two, the money exchanges hands and accelerates and multiplies and creates consumer demand and before long employers are employing again; in Course Three, the money goes into the bank and sits there (after buying one's third yacht and fifth summer home, the thrill is gone).
Those are not merely the fundamental economic realities of the available options; they are, as well, the fundamental political realities of what's explanatorily possible on the campaign trial. Romney's conservative critics know that. They know the narrow, still-persuadable electorate with a low tolerance for policy information won't endure lectures on Keynesian vs. supply-side economics. What's more, they know their argument is hideous humbug. On the other hand it's ideologically virtuous, and that's good enough.
But trying to studiously explain the impossible--why an economic theory that failed enormously in relative good times would suddenly thrive in the bad--well, one simply doesn't go there. So Romney doesn't. And neither will his "conservative" critics. Because they can't.