(Image by DonkeyHotey)

Dang, you can always tell when the Romney campaign is feeling really stressed — and nowadays, that seems to be all the time: They try (and usually fail) to ramp up the running-mate speculation.

So it is with today’s announcement. Whereas the practice for most presidential-party nominees, actual or presumed, was to actually wait until the convention in September, Team Romney’s members are so freaked out by all the scandals swirling around the campaign — the Bain scandal, the IRA scandal, the taxes (or lack thereof) scandal, the El Salvador blood-money scandal — that they’re not only announcing the pick nearly a month early, they’re doing the Full Bush “Mission Accomplished” drill and nabbing a Navy vessel on which to do the honors:

Mitt Romney will announce his Vice Presidential pick in Norfolk, VA tomorrow morning on the USS Wisconsin

And you know what’s really funny? Mitt’s folks couldn’t even sustain the suspense, such as it was, for a few measly hours — as Teddy mentioned last night, they’re going with conservative darling, Ayn Rand worshipper, and infamous death panelist for grannies, Paul Ryan — because they’re scared to death of losing even a single conservative voter. Used to be that Republicans were base-caterers in the primaries and went more moderate in the general — no more. They can’t do that anymore, not with the crazy base they’ve spent decades poisoning via the Southern Strategy.

Go ahead, shake that Etch-A-Sketch, Mitt. You’re still not going to change the subject for very long — unless you change it to “Gee, how desperate is Mitt Romney to drown out the scandals dogging his campaign? Pretty darned desperate, if he’s pulling this stunt.”

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