Then there is what happened in Afghanistan. On Sept. 14, Taliban forces attacked an allied base in Helmand province, killing two U.S. Marines. Human losses are always the most disturbing, but the Taliban's main target was American warplanes. They managed to destroy eight Harrier jets. In a brief article entitled, "The U.S. Suffered Its Worst Airpower Loss Since Vietnam Last Week and No One Really Noticed," the Atlantic's John Hudson wrote that the losses amounted to 7 percent of the Marine Corps' entire Harrier fleet. The planes, which stopped production in 1999, can't be replaced. Hudson quoted one military expert who called the attack "arguably the worst day in [U.S. Marine Corps] aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968."
Hudson's piece came out the same day Romney released his 2011 tax returns. Guess which got more attention in the political world?
Then there is the entitlement crisis. Democrats have targeted the Republican ticket, and particularly vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, over plans to reform the nation's troubled entitlement system. That's fine. But what would President Obama do about the problem?
Journalist Mark Halperin asked top Obama aide David Axelrod that very question Monday morning. Axelrod hemmed and hawed about a "balanced" approach to the problem, but when Halperin asked simply, "So what is [Obama's] proposal?" Axelrod answered, "This is not the time." Axelrod suggested that if Halperin were to win election to the U.S. Senate, then they might talk.
Libya, Afghanistan, entitlements -- all are enough for days of discussion about the president's problems. But much of the political conversation, among Republican insiders as well as in news reporting, has focused on Romney's difficulties.
Some conservative critics say Romney has been too vague about his economic proposals. Some say he has muzzled Ryan, failing to take advantage of his running mate's impressive mastery of the federal budget. Some say he has fallen short of the standard set 30 years ago by Ronald Reagan.
There's no doubt Romney has made mistakes in the past few weeks. And there's no doubt some GOP insiders are nearing a state of panic about his chances of becoming president. But what about the other guy, the guy who actually is president? There's a lot going on there that Republicans, and journalists too, might want to talk about.