All of which helps explain why the Obamans are grinning madly. It’s not simply that they, too, see the pick as an admission by Team Romney that its strategy was failing. Or that Ryan doesn’t clearly pass the test of being (and, crucially, looking) ready to be president. Or that his utter lack of private-sector bona fides undercuts, however mildly, Romney’s attacks on Obama for lacking same. It’s that Chicago and the White House perceive this as a broader capitulation regarding the core dynamic of the race: an acceptance of the “choice election” framing, which is exactly the frame that the incumbent and his people have embraced and attempted to propagate from the start.
And just why have they done that? Because they knew full well that if the race were purely a referendum on Obama, they would likely lose — but if bright lines could be drawn on values and visions regarding fiscal choices, that was the kind of election they could win. This was why Chicago was planning to hang the Ryan budget around Romney’s neck regardless of whether the congressman was on the ticket or not. Obama’s data jockeys have been polling and focus-grouping on this for months, and they are over the moon about what they have found.