Monthly Archives: September 2012

How Mitt Romney solidified Obama’s bounce (and lost the race?)

Well, here we are…

With 44 days to go, President Obama is polling above 48%, and is ahead of Mitt Romney by 3.7%. And this is not just any check-in. At the time of our last update, we had yet to see the effect of much real news on the race. Now we have quite a bit of real news under our belts. It’s now been:

  • 43 days since Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate
  • 24 days since the Republican National Convention ended (on which, see my final review and links to the earlier ones here)
  • 17 days since the Democratic National Convention concluded (further reviews on that here)
  • 16 days since the truly grim August jobs report was released
  • 12 days since the embassy attacks on the anniversary of 9/11
  • 5 days since video of Romney writing off 47% of the nation before wealthy donors emerged

So now these numbers can be considered quite a bit more indicative than before. And what do they show? You’ve seen the graph above. Also worth considering is the electoral college map, since that, of course, is how the President is actually elected. If one takes the most conservative route of only assuming Obama carries that states where he’s currently polling even higher than his 3.7% national average, the map looks like this (courtesy of RealClearPolitics):

If we look at the map with all leads, it’s a blow-out for Obama, with only Indiana, North Carolina, and Nebraska’s split vote flipped from Obama’s 2008 total to Romney:

In other words, any way you slice it, it’s a pretty convincing lead. The odds-makers over at InTrade tend to agree:

As does Nate Silver’s model over at FiveThirtyeight.com:

 

You’ll see many stories in the days ahead about how Romney isn’t as hosed as he seems. Like this one for example. Most will be written by partisans trying very hard to believe, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely wrong. Indeed, to see the FiveThirtyEight model on the flipside, it’s saying if you run the race 44 days forward from where it is now 10 times, you’d expect Romeny to win at least twice, even given present numbers. This thing will certainly tighten up from where it is now.

However, as laid out above, we now have a lot of news behind us, and the debates are the remaining major campaign driver. Based on historical experience, it would be a mistake to expect them to change things fundamentally (for more on this, see this article from the American Prospect). Which leaves external events. There is no doubt more fallout from Libya, and more uncertain economic indicators. These are the kinds of things that can take the edge off of Obama’s numbers, but not the kind of things that would totally change the dynamic. To understand how we got here, I think it’s useful to look at the period since the Ryan announcement:

As you can see, the announcement, and the convention, actually helped Romney quite a bit, bringing him from a trough of 43% up to around 46.8% at his height. Moreover, the two combined took a lot of steam out of Obama’s numbers, bringing them down from 48% to 46% at his lowest point. The effect of all of this, though, was just to tie it. And if all you are is tied after the maximum burst of positive attention on you, well… So then Obama got his own convention bounce, and Romney’s numbers took a corresponding dive. Then, as Obama’s bounce was beginning to fade, and Romeny’s numbers stabilizing for a likely rebound to some extent, news happened. It looks to me like the effect of Romney’s bungled response to the Libyan crisis and the leak of his “writing off 47%” comments (not to mention his digging in and doubling-down every chance he got once these stories started to play badly for him) has been to send his numbers sideways (and even somewhat downward) just when they should have been recovering a little. And, on the other side, they allowed Obama to keep more of his post-convention buzz than he otherwise would have.

This is going to fade a little bit toward the mean from here, but at levels much more difficult for Romney to recoup from than they would have been minus his two weeks of mis-steps. For example, let’s say Romney had good debate showings that were worth a point of swing, and Obama had a string of negative external news that was worth another point of swing, plus a general tightening of a point. That would be some major shifts all in Romney’s direction, and it would still leave Obama ahead by 0.7%. Barring major crisis or huge debate surprises, Obama’s solid lead is the new normal for the race, and it’s going to be a very tough hill for Romney to climb.

 

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DNC Review II: I Want To Believe

Well, this weekend has quite gotten away from me, though through the best means possible (helping a friend celebrate an important anniversary Friday night, and going to the Boston Arts Festival with my dearly beloved and our cousin yesterday. So I will have to try to catch up with the remainder of the Democratic National Convention speeches today. You can find Part I of my DNC review here, and can also peruse parts I, II and III of my RNC reviews, should you be so inclined.

Since I listened to Rick Santorum’s defense of the rights of the unborn at the RNC, it seems only fair to give some time the woman Rush Limbaugh made famous by mocking for not wanting to get unintentionally pregnant, Sandra Fluke:

Moral of this story- don’t be the nominee of a party that tries to hold a hearing on contraception without inviting a single woman, and then when one of the most prominent figures of your party mocks  a woman who did testify about contraception earlier by calling her a slut, not say anything in her defense. Because if you decide to be that guy, you deserve to get this speech thrown your way, and she gave it very well.  

Now on to John Kerry, the heartbreak of 2004, speaking about Romney’s foreign policy proposals:
Using “Respect” as the intro is an interesting choice. Weird to think that if he had won in 2004 and then won re-election, this could have been making his speech as incumbent tonight. Ah, alternate history… Oh, good one about his outsourcing the job of Commander in Chief to Neocons. And finally somebody addressing American exceptionalism as being something produced by doing exceptional things. Like standing up for freedom and fighting global warming. This is really a nice succinct argument for Obama’s foreign policy. Eliminating more of Al Qaeda in the last three years than in the previous eight? I like this “he promised” “he did” motif he’s got going here. And now name-checking Netanyahu against Romney. Refused to accept the false choice between diplomacy without force and force without diplomacy. You go, John! Really gratifying, this is like anti swift-boating. And now he’s throwing “for it before you were against it” back at them too. It really is amazing that the party of defense and strength abroad turned out Romney as a nominee. Kind of a testimony to how well Obama’s been doing, that things seems stable enough that it isn’t even a major issue.
And now to the woman who would be my Senator, Elizabeth Warren, who gave  a speech I’ve already heard plenty about, busy as my work-week was. Let’s see if it was as rabble-rousing as I’ve been led to believe:

Awww, it’s her first convention! And darned if they aren’t chanting for her now. Uh-oh, now she’s talking about hard-working people. Too radical! “The game is rigged against them” is the line I kept hearing, but nobody quoted the second half- it wasn’t always this way. As she’s arguing now, America did invest in it’s middle class, and it’s that policy that’s been reversed now. And the people who have been rolled over by that  are the people she’s fighting for. It’s a funny America where talking about the interests of working people over those of billionaires is radical. Uh-oh, Cayman Islands. We celebrate success, we just don’t want the game to be rigged. And now she’s talking about Progressivism in the Teddy Roosevelt sense. Well done, Liz, well done. Level the playing field, fair share, fair shot, build the country from the bottom up. Her little huff exasperation sound is almost as distracting as Ryan’s weird little laugh-sigh sound. Oh good one- sure they believe in government. They believe in government to help themselves and their friends. And now very powerful on corporations not being people, and people being who we represent. Now presenting Obama versus the lobbyists on the Consumer Protection Agency, on the side of the people. While of course reminding us the agency was her idea. Is this a winning strategy for her? I don’t know, but it’s winning my vote. Now linking stealing your purse on the street with stealing your pension on Wall Street. And now closing with Matthew 25:40 and the ghost of Ted Kennedy. Go Liz go!

Who was she introducing by the way? Oh yes, that’s right, one former President William Jefferson Clinton:

Ah, that’s right, he was formally placing Obama’s name in nomination in his speech. Aww, look at Rahm Emmanuel smiling up at him all starry-eyed. Like me, he wants to believe, and Bill Clinton always reminds him of when he did. Hence my use of another icon from the 90s icon to introduce this posting. We’re all in this together- the centerpiece of the Progressive ethos. Ah, now breaking down job creation since 1961 by administration. Investing in people is both morally right and good economics. Oh, Billy, we do miss you. Now he’s talking up Eisenhower and Reagan and pointing out how he’s never hated Republicans anything like the way the right now hates Obama. Because we focus on solving problems and seizing opportunities rather than fighting all the time. Cooperation over conflict, nobody’s right all the time, but the current Republicans don’t see it that way. And now holding up Obama as someone committed to cooperation, pointing out that he brought Republicans into his cabinet and his 2008 rivals. Including, yes indeed, Hillary Clinton. And, you know, while you can point to times when Obama’s been too inflexible, the other side has pretty much made the argument for him by being TOTALLY inflexible. Now skewering the Tampa convention, conceding they’re honorable people who will keep their commitments, then reminding us what those commitments are. And now selling the case for Obama- he put a floor under the crash, and has built the foundation for a future that works. And comparing it to his experience in ’94/’95, reminding us that Obama started with an economy in far worse shape. If you renew the President’s contract, you will feel the recovery. That’s it, that’s the argument. Love the job scores: job growth following the stimulus plan plus the auto restructuring versus Congress killing the jobs bill and Romney opposing saving the auto industry. Education so people can fill the already open jobs in the new economy, and what Obama is doing to support that. Man, this is a masterpiece-logical, thorough and impassioned. I understand now why folks were raving. For the last two years, health care cost growth under 4% per year for the first time in 50 years! Oh good, now he’s going after the “robbing Medicare” line. Did Ryan really think nobody would notice that the rationale, and even the amount, is exactly what he himself proposed? He’s a master of describing the other sides positions accurately, and making them seem absurd. The Republicans try that too, but outright lie to represent the other side’s argument along the way. Now shredding the Obama attacked the Welfare work requirement lie. And ending by talking about debt reduction, aka taking the bull by the horns. They quadrupled the debt the twelve years before he took office and doubled it the eight after he left. Ain’t no arguing that. The Obama plan as passing the arithmetic test and the values test. Plus a little voting rights on the way out. Fantastic speech and one that, by the way, unlike Romney or Ryan’s, passed fact checking with flying colors. There’s only one problem with a speech like this…

Somebody has to follow it. And the somebody who’s speech would most strongly compared to it, for good or ill, of course, would be President Obama‘s. I’ve heard that it was more restrained than many were expecting, but I wonder if some of that was the comparison effect. Let us see:
Did they really move inside because of the rain? Maybe yes, probably no. But it is a nicely filled-out room. Okay, I’m already doing the compare to Romney game. I have to think the guy who seems more optimistic and relaxed is going to take it. Look at Bush/Gore. Look at Bush/Kerry. And it’s already clear who’s on what side of that between these two speeches. Although he does keep slipping in to this slightly pugnacious look. I guess this race has him riled up! Beats Romeny’s exaggerated-eyed aloof nod, to be sure. A choice between two paths, good. I’m liking this, we’ve been there and tried that, and we are moving forward. And, however it plays, I have to admire the, “I’m here to tell you the truth- it won’t be easy, it won’t be quick.” Didn’t work so well for Carter or Mondale, but it’s still the higher road. Interesting to observe to the side, as I’m watching this on YouTube- 1.165 million views, 11,702 likes versus 3,388 dislikes. (Update- the most viewed one I could find had 356K views, with 2,804 likes versus 3,558 dislikes.) Even given that the net audience skews younger and better educated, therefore more likely Progressive, that’s pretty good. Remind me to check Romney’s stats after… Asking us to choose a path that leads to more manufacturing jobs and less imported oil dependence. Reminding us that climate change is not a hoax, and the dangers it poses to our children’s future is not a joke. And now education as the key to future competitiveness, which government has a role in, but everyone has to work on together. Now reminding us of his foreign policy promises, and how they’ve been delivered on, sounding almost Bushian with the new tower rising and Osama Bin Laden is dead line. And remembering to mention the troops in harm’s way (boy do I bet Romney regrets that one) but tying it back in to policies to take care of the troops when they come back home. You know, I think what this really sounds like is the more sober, responsible speech of a sitting President. It’s appropriate, I think, and the way you put down a challenger by contrast. Definitely some chutzpah on the foreign policy inexperience of Romney and Ryan given he came in with none himself, but hey, he’s delivered. I’m liking this “I refuse” line, listing the things that benefit the middle class that he’s not willing to give up on so that an upper income tax-cut can happen. Pivoting from that to, “this is the choice we now face.” And packaging the Republican policy prescription as being something that’s not who we are. Believing in the next little girl who might become President! Government can’t solve all of our problems, but it isn’t the source either. “We” like a thousand times. Nice- “you were the change”, “you did that” to counter the “you built that.” The party certainly knows how to not roll over and play dead by ceding all language of citizenship and patriotism to the Republicans. Interesting end- owning up to his failings and limitations, but how we give him hope. Like 2008 inverted. And if we share that hope, then he asks us for our vote. Wow, that was an end!    
Do I have any closing remarks that compare the two? Why yes, yes I do. In the boring realm of facts, the Democrats did much better. Witness, for eample, Factcheck.org’s rundown of Biden and Obama’s speeches (By the way Joe- I apologize for dropping you from this review. You know I dearly love you, but my time was too limited, and you know how Bill likes to go over…), and contrast the exaggerations there (and surely there were some) to the outright lies documented there for Romney and Ryan. As far as tone goes, I agree with Sean Trende’s column from RealClearPolitics that the Democrats actually seemed like the riled-up and enthusiastic challengers this year. As for Obama’s speech, I’m not sure I agree with those who found it comparatively lackluster. As I said above, I found it to be more appropriately sober and honest about the road ahead without ceding a single policy or rhetorical point. That being said, I can understand Joe Klein’s take on it, and I think he’s on to something: An ideal Democratic candidate might be accomplished by a mind-meld between Obama and Clinton. Maybe I’ll run on that…      
And there you have it. Our conventions are done, less than 60 days to go. Ding! for round two!                                          
           

DNC Review I: Platforms, peanuts, keynotes and one kick-ass mama

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you know that over the weekend, I got caught up on the little party the RNC held down in Tampa. You can read my after-live blogging of some of the main speeches in parts I, II and III of my RNC Review posts last week. Well, guess what? The Democrats do this convention thing too! And, so accordingly, over the next few days I’ll be blogging my reactions to the party in

To kick it off, Corey Booker, Mayor, I am told. of Newark (and Platform Committee co-chair to boot) warming up the crowd early in the evening Tuesday by introducing the platform:

Wow, “moving America and our economy forward” in like the first line. That’s message discipline! Nice- grow together versus savage disparities. He has a speaking problem democrats often fall victim to- volume as an indicator of passion. Whereas it sounds more to me like shouting. I think maybe it comes from a history of union barnstormers versus business confabs. Significant cuts in federal spending, but making sure everyone pays their fair share as patriotism, not class warfare. Also very nice- ha, even got them chanting USA! Who do they think they are, proud Americans? And a good argument for investment, with a plug for small business. I wonder if Republicans feel the same way listening to this that I did to RNC speeches? I.e., it sounds good, but I don’t believe they mean it. I think so, that’s where we’re at as a nation after the culture wars of the 90s, Clinton impeachment circus, polarizing Bush years and anti-Obama flip-out- increasingly polarized away from any common ground. Nice tie-in of education as the most fundamental investment in economic success. And opportunity for all to go wherever they can imagine, which after all is what the RNC kept pushing too. Well, I don’t disagree with anything he’s saying, even if I wish he hadn’t shouted it at me. And I love him for ending with liberty and justice for all.    

And now, having watched the Bush mini-documentary at the RNC, on the principle of one (or two) Ex-Presidents deserve another, let’s move on to the video address from Jimmy Carter. He won’t shout at me:

36 years ago. Wow. That election is actually my first public affairs memory. And there isn’t a word about his legacy, it’s all about Obama’s integrity and him being on the side of the middle class. Remember when the Democrats used to be totally undisciplined? Well done, DNC, well done. And yet Jimmy still keeps his interest in global development and justice subtly in the mix in this speech. I remember the economic and international chaos of 1979, and I was as excited as anyone, in my 10 year old way, by Reagan coming in. But looking at Carter now always warms my heart. Not a great President, but a big-hearted genuine man.  

And now for the speech that I’ve heard a lot about, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro‘s keynote:

See, we’ve got Texans too! And now he’s stealing the RNC’s make the 21st Century a new American Century line. Single mothers believing in the American Dream, prayer and menudo cook-offs. Sounds like they love America to me, and believe in opportunity plenty. A human dream calling across oceans and borders, which America makes possible. See RNC, it is possible to be globally open and love your country too. 21st century boys, get on board. Things we can’t do alone, which is why we have to come together and invest for opportunity. You can’t be pro-business unless you’re pro-education. Damn. Say it! Invest today to be competitive tomorrow. Nicely skewering Romney on borrowing money from your parents to start a business not being the reality for most people. Geez, though, how many times have they fit middle class in their speeches so far, though. Nice bit he’s on now with the “Mitt Romney says ‘No’.” When we invest in people, we invest in our shared prosperity. Man, they’ve really figured out their messaging. And now stealing Ryan’s “Get it done”, but applying it to health care. A choice between the middle class pays more so millionaires can pay less, or everybody paying their fair share. That’s about as succinct as it gets. The American dream as a relay, instead of a sprint, very nice. A responsibility to come together to assure opportunity for all going forward.        

If you read last week, you may recall my saying I don’t put a lot of stock in spousal speeches. I don’t! But Michelle Obama‘s speech met with such rave reviews, and since I listened to Ann Romney’s, I feel like what’s good for the red goose is good for the blue gander. Or something like that:

Aww look-there’s Joe, clapping and smiling for her! Damn, that woman knows how to sparkle when she speaks. It’s funny, because in many ways, this reminds me of Ann Romney’s speech. It’s structurally almost identical so far. Except she does the young couple struggling thing more naturally, because they did actually struggle. And putting the “glass ceiling” in a personal context. Even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids. That’s it. She’s doing a great job of testifying to his character, and tying that in to his devotion to get the economy going again. Our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick, and nobody should ever go broke because of an accident or an illness. Increasing student aid and keeping interest rates down. And this being personal, not political. She doesn’t quite know how to not talk over an applause line, but it makes her seem more genuine in a way. And damned if they aren’t backing up their marriage equality plank- every speaker I’ve listened to has mentioned it so far. And listen to her go, stealing back and redefining “success” from the RNC who tried to convince us Democrats hate it. And when you succeed  you help others who come after you to do it too. Together. We’re all in this together. Doesn’t sound like the polarizing divider they love to conjure up. She’s also doing a Bush thing for him (in a good way), reminding everyone he stands up for what he thinks is right even if it’s unpopular. And now she’s tying it all in to the American Dream as being part and parcel of women’s rights, the Civil Rights movement, marriage equality. And her daughters as the future she knows we need to keep fighting for, oh geez now I’m tearing up.            
  
Well, there we are! In the interests of fair play, I have to report that they fudged some facts, as politicians are wont to do. You can and should read up on it here. In terms of general review, I have to say, I have my leanings, so I can’t give a truly unbiased comparison, but I think their first night was better than the RNC’s. Everyone felt really united, whereas you could almost feel the “me next” jockeying from Santorum and Christie at RNC night one. Looking forward to seeing night two!

RNC Review III: Go ahead, make a rambling rant (and a moderately successful acceptance speech)

Well, here we are. The third of three after-live blogs of the major speeches from the just-concluded Republican National Convention, which I was in too much of a work buzz to watch live earlier in the week. You can find parts I and II here and here. Now, if we’re all caught up…

I have certainly heard a lot of buzz about our first selection, the speech by former mayor of Carmel and director of some of my favoritely bleak films, Clint Eastwood. Slate made a case that the Romney campaign was either incompetently out of control of the content of this speech, or else it badly backfired on them. Let’s see:

Ha. Love the backdrop! He already sounds a little rambly and grouchy old man. Oprah was crying, I was crying. Ha. Good one. Addressing the empty chair is weird all right, but I could imagine it working. Instead it’s coming off as full blown senile because, of all things for an actor, of halting delivery and fumbled lines. Like he’s literally forgetting lines and trailing off. Youch. Though “You’re getting as bad as Biden” was pretty good! Time for a businessman, eh? Yes, W. sure did a bang-up job. Oh, and we certainly do own this country, and politicians are employees of ours. Not oil companies, insurance companies, multinational banks. Who are the people behind which party? Well, yes, both of them. But one more than the other, especially these last four years…

Now on to the intro to Romney’s speech by the man most likely to be nominated VP by second-guessers if Ryan doesn’t work out for Romney, the Republican most likely to need a long-form birth certificate, Senator Marco Rubio:

Wow, he’s even more baby-faced than Ryan! Still and all, between the Florida and Hispanic angles, I have to wonder if the votes he could have moved at the margin might be more valuable than the gamble on Ryan’s ability to energize the base. We shall see… He is very personable, and is also doing a fine job of selling Romney, even allowing that Obama is a good person too, just not a good President. And he’s doing a great job of turning around Obama’s “Forward” slogan. He’s upset by divide and conquer, so I assume he was very upset in 2004 with the Bush re-election strategy. God and family as uniquely American values, good, good. I’m heartened to hear he’s worried about those saddled with too much school debt, though. I’ll assume he’s going to embrace Obama’s suggestions on that front, then. Also glad he wants people in poverty to have the chance to have their children lifted out of that and have new opportunities. How many people in that hall had fathers who worked two jobs? As a percentage compared to the same hall in Charlotte. I’d be fascinated to see that. They really are laying out the rhetoric of caring, though. It’s an interesting tack, though. As for Marco, he didn’t set the room on fire, exactly, or even boost Romney as much as one might imagine. But he did a very solid job, and certainly kept his own future looking bright.

Which brings us to the main event, the acceptance speech of one Mitt Romney. I actually haven’t read a whole lot about it, so my reactions will be about as live as if I’d watched it live:

I kind of like this whole glad-handing his way up to stage like he was actually working a crowd. What was that “Don’t touch me!” shout in the crowd about, though? Wow a little strained attempt-excited scary looking on the “I accept” line. I think he has the Al Gore disease- guy so habitually reserved he can only do an impression of someone who’s relaxed, instead of actually relaxing. Nation of immigrants, ironic. It’s certainly true that a majority of Americans thinking that the future won’t be better for the first time is a problem. I’ll be eager to her his solutions. Oh my God, really- pay down the national debt? From that party?!?!? And they’re on the side of people working two $9/hour jobs without benefits. Like, hmmm, let me see- Health Care?!?!? Glad to hear he wished President Obama had succeeded though, unlike the stated number one policy aim of many senior Republicans from even before inauguration day to make sure that Obama was a one term failure. Which they’ve certainly done their best to do. Nice how he’s painting a picture of a small-town Midwestern kind of upbringing. His Mom and Dad story is good though- made me tear up! Now highlighting women in politics, nicely played. Also playing up the hardscrabble origins of Bain as a story of his becoming his own man. Aww, and he made Ann smile by talking about her, which is nice, because she looked awfully tense earlier in his speech. So far, 20 minutes in, it’s been a very broad speech, very Mom and apple pie. That “you know there’s something wrong with the job he’s done if the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him” line is devastating and well-aimed, though. And now he’s charming and engaging talking about Bain as a start-up he built up and the companies it’s helped, which makes you wonder why he didn’t do it months before. We celebrate success, we don’t apologize for it, also well done. Funny how Bain having failures along with successes is okay, but Solyndra as one failure of a very broad stimulus package means the whole thing is rotten. Time to turn the page is also good, as is- what America needs is jobs. Health insurance premiums higher? Really? That’s really what they want to talk about? And the middle class? Who’s policies since the 80s have destroyed the middle class and stalled wages? Hmmm, let’s see. Also, he keeps doing this  plastic debate team captain just scored a point face. Okay, here we go, five-point plan. 1. Energy independent North America by 2020. 2. School choice. 3. Trade agreements. 4. Cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget. 5. Champion small businesses by simplifying regulations, lower taxes, and oh, for fucks sake, reigning in health care costs by repealing Obamacare? The only thing in 40 years that’s done anything to limit health care costs. Oh good-Sanctity of marriage (sorry, Gays). Freedom of religion (unless it’s a mosque at ground zero). That “my promise is to help you and your family” line is good. Trotting out the apology tour line again, which gets the crowd going. Now doing a good bit of Iran, China and Russia-baiting, always a crowd-pleaser. Oh, now they’re worried about our schools lagging. Who lagged them through decades of under-funding? All right, now we’re building to the crescendo. Helping hand to those in need? Now they’re trying to do the kinder gentler, compassionate conservative thing they actually shaft us on once elected. Now we’ve got the families on stage, balloons dropping. I always love that scene. Also appreciate the irony of a Republican convention playing a James Brown song for their closing.

Well, there we have it. I think it was a solid, well-played speech. I don’t know that it was particularly inspirational past the base, which you would need to swing enough of the middle to win. Or even fire breathing enough for the kind of super-base turnout that would be the other most likely path to victory, though you can read a review from a fellow blogger who I admire as a writer and astute political commentator from the other side of the aisle, Erin at Swing State Voter, here.        

I found it to be a little too down the middle to really shake things up plus or minus, which this word balloon put together from the speech might bear out (graphic courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.com):

The consensus of opinion so far would seem to be along these lines as well, initial results from Gallup show it to have been one of the most lukewarmly received acceptance speeches of the last few decades. What did you think of it? Not just in an election year, but every year, I’m very interested in hearing from readers!                          

     

RNC Review II: In which the Republicans say many things that I would agree with, if I thought they actually practiced what they preach.

And here we are with Round II of my review of the doings at the Republican National Convention this past week. If you’re just joining us, having been too work-frenzied during the week to catch the convention, I’m catching up this three day weekend, and after-live blogging my reactions. Part I, with my review of the speeches of Ann Romney, Ricky Santorum and Chris Christie, as well as the Bush 41/43 tribute, can be found here.

All caught up now? Good, let’s go!

We’ll start with John McCain. I think the previous nominee’s speech is always interesting, when you can get it. The Democrats actually abandoned their “losers night” in the 90s, when they got serious about winning again, but fortunately last time they let both Al Gore and John Kerry speak. And I dare anyone to try and stop Johnnie:

Ha! “Highway to the Danger Zone” as the intro. Nice touch, RNC. He actually smiled after calling Mitt Romney his friend. A fairly restrained reference to losing the last election, and then straight into Romney having a sacred charge, and world affairs being as important as domestic issues. Oh, and he mentions how we have led the world under “patriots of both parties.” Reminds me of why we who believe in country over party used to admire him so much. And still do in large part, despite his becoming Bush’s lacky and unleashing Palin on a defenseless country. Now a plug for Israel, how we can’t afford to give China and Russia a veto, government leaks about operations. Probably the only person all weekend who will mention Afghanistan. And possibly he wants us to militarily intervene in Syria? That seems to be what he’s saying. I’d feel more compelled by this argument about supporting freedom worldwide if his party actually meant it. In say, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, even when it’s more inconvenient, as much as places where it suits our geopolitical interests. Because I actually believe in what he’s saying about how we must always be on the side of freedom worldwide.

Correction to an error from yesterday’s blog. They did let a Bush speak! And so, accordingly, we shall hear him, former first-brother Jeb Bush:

Hmmm, this is odd. He’s taking the stage with two other people. Are they going to sing? I so hope they sing! A surprisingly mild cheer for the family when he invokes their history of service to the country. Oh they did like the “stop blaming your predecessor” line. You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies didn’t work, and it’s time to accept responsibility for it. Not a bad line of argument. And now talking about education and schools, and preparing our children for the emerging future world. As with Senator McCain, I agree, despite the thick irony of the argument coming from a side that has pushed policies that underfunded education for decades. Oh, and I see now, its teachers he brought on stage with him! And he’s having them speak now. Poor working conditions and little pay. Yes, yes, I agree. I do like his focus, and clear energy around the issue. We all know why he couldn’t run this year, but here’s hoping to see him again in 2016 or 2020. And, frankly, I think there is more than a point around the issue of teachers unions being a block to some needed reforms. How about we stand up to the teachers unions AND the petroleum lobby? Fair trade, I’ll take it. He wants some states rights around educational choice too. Okay, I’ll take that as well, in exchange for state’s rights around setting their own abortion and gay marriage laws, rather than having federal constitutional bans. Done and done!

All right, I’ve been steeling myself for this one. Yes that’s right, VP Nominee Paul Ryan. I have of course read some of the coverage, so I am expecting some, shall we say, freedoms from truth:

Aww, he’s so cute! He really does have that boyish charm thing going for him. Drama- he accepted the nomination! And was immediately on point re: invoking the phrase “jobs crisis” in his acceptance. Mitt Romney as man for the turnaround, good, good. Really funny that he talks about opponents silent about their record as the running mate of El Silencio about the past incarnate. Nice crack about Obama wasting money in advertising, just as he has with the country. Five minutes in, no lies so far. Nice, allowing that Obama came in under challenging conditions. Ah, here we are, 6:44 with the plant closing. Actually not false, but certainly misleading. Solyndra, their favorite single example of waste to characterize the whole. Yes indeed, cronyism, corporate welfare. From the party of corporate welfare! “Borrowed, spent and wasted” is a great line, though. Now on to jobs crisis- which, interestingly, only really took off once the stimulus he just said was “wasted” ended. Federal government in charge of health care BS, which of course the AHCA doesn’t do. But boy does that get the crowd riled! Now on to the “stealing from Medicare” bit, based on a policy he himself supported in his own plan. Almost surreal to see a Republican VP nominee singing the praises of Medicare! Well, whatever works, right? The little “hmm” thing he does after his phrases is weird, a little off-putting, like a condescending semi-laugh. Nice bit, though, about Obama saying his mistake has been not communicating more, spun into a “talk versus action” point. Also doing the same deal as Jeb about shifting blame to the last administration versus accepting responsibility. Added more debt than any other President before him. Huh? Forgotten Bush much? Just a lie, outright, factual mathematical untruth. And Republicans on offering good faith proposals. Well, if you don’t remember the daily news from the last three years, that might play. Very nice on stop spending money we don’t have, and we need to solve the country’s economic problems, and not having much time. He’s delivering a strong message, and firing up the base, just like a good VP should. Not electrifying the hall nearly as much as Sarah Palin did four years ago, but, well, that would be a tall order. I think if this ticket were reversed it would be a far greater threat to Obama than it is under its current order. Also got to hand it to them for boldness- 12 million jobs over the next 4 years. Ha, unemployed college grads living in their parents’ bedrooms staring up at fading Obama posters. Good one! “A country where everything is free but us.” Also very nice rhetoric. There are no “central planners” that he’s speaking of, but still nice. Pivot now to building up Romney as he moves to the close. Very nice line about his iPod versus Romney’s. And great sell of Romney’s record in Massachusetts too, more than Romney himself has actually done. Also identifying the common ground of their faiths. “We have responsibilities, one to another” neat, since that actually is the Democratic credo, the raison d’etre of social welfare programs. You know, that was pretty good. Not as fiery as the coverage I had read would indicate, nor as chock full of lies. To be sure, they were there and some of them were pretty egregious, you can get a good third party evaluation of it here. But, all in all, he made their case pretty solidly.

And so we will end for today. Tomorrow, Mitt and Clint, with a little Rubio thrown in!  

RNC Review I: a Mormon’s wife, a Catholic and a guy from Jersey walk into a hall…

Hey there, Presidential election watchers!

It’s been a heck of a whirlwind summer, which has somewhat limited my blogging, though I have been doing semi-regular updates on the race (the latest of which can be found here). And then, just as that let up, I dipped into Board meeting preparation frenzy at work, which prevented me watching much of the RNC this past week. Well, that, and listening to election news drives Abbey batty. Not to fear, I have been reading along, and technology provides us a fix. For the next three days, I’m going to be blogging my reactions to the major speeches from this past week’s Republican National Convention. An after-live blog, if you will.

For our first segment, we’ll watch Ann Romney on the opening night of the convention. Normally I wouldn’t be very interested in the spousal speech, but I am interested to see her try to fulfill her mission of humanizing Mitt:

Aw look, she’s wearing a Republican red dress! I like her opening with a reminder that fellow Americans were under peril from a hurricane- a nicely rare moment of we’re all Americans. I’m not sure the parents struggling to make rent and single father’s she’s referencing are there in that hall like she says, but again, nice someone there is talking about them. 7 minutes in now, and it’s been almost all women, and not more than a sentence on Mitt. Whoa- did she just really talk about it’s harder because school services that used to be free are now billed? Excuse me, which party is in favor of fewer public services and more privatization? Ah, here’s Mitt appearing again, literally. Cute picture of high school him. Very nice photo collage thing they’re doing on the screen behind her as she talks about them living in a basement apartment as newlyweds. 5 sons and 18 grandchildren- holy crap! She’s a little goofy, and a little stiff, but is coming across as quite charming, and doing a good job of selling him as someone who’ll be on your side no matter what. Ah, now here we go with some good convention-style questions and chants of “No!” And now she’s slipped in the he wasn’t handed success- he built it. Way to be on theme! Lots of talk now about giving and helping, and the plucky growth of a small company (aka Bain Capital). And Mitt as Mr. Fixit, with the Olympics, with Massachusetts, all through his life. Not bad-even made Condi Rice smile. Awww, and he came up on stage to meet her.    

All right, now on to the speech by Rick Santorum. Always interesting to see how the runner-up does with the required endorsement, and what clues it gives about what’s on his mind for next time. because, if the party follows the experience it’s had of “runner-up next” for every open slot since 1976 except one, this could very well be the Republican nominee in 2016 or 2020. Mind-boggling as that would be…

Hey, I didn’t know he was a first-generation American! Guess you do learn something every day. It’s interesting, he’s giving what is essentially an acceptance speech- who would have guessed the son of immigrants would one day run for President, etc. Nice bit about no government benefits except for one-freedom, when his grandfather came here in the 1920s. Nice bit too about how President Obama borrowing $5 trillion to build things didn’t work because that’s not how America works. I’m sure he was just as upset with Bush for borrowing the trillions of trillions beforehand. A good thorough attack on the culture of dependency and how we have to stop the war on marriage and family. What the hell is he talking about Obama nationalizing curriculum? Somebody gotta fact check that shit. Oh and now he’s worried about President’s Executive Orders, which I’m sure he was equally horrified at under Bush? “The little broken hands of the disabled.” Really? Okay, now he’s talking about his disabled daughter and not listening to the doctor who said she wouldn’t make it, which makes that sentence seem slightly less wonky, although he really was referring to the disabled in general when he made it. Speaking of wonky, it looks like he’s speaking in front of a giant blue lava lamp. I think it’s pretty groovy. Only two mentions of Mitt Romney, including his plug right at the end for voting for him as a protector of the rights of the unborn. It’s interesting, this could have been one of the more fire-breathing speeches of the convention, but was actually pretty restrained and orderly.

Now on the man who probably should be the nominee the next time they have a open slot, but decided this wan’t the year to run a campaign that told the party the truth, Chris Christie giving the keynote address:

Wow, quite a multi-media intro they’re giving him! Blustery, funny start about the unlikelihood of being a New Jersey Republican. This guy absolutely could do it. Whoa, whoa, whoa, mentioning his dad’s start on the GI Bill. Isn’t that one of them there spending inferno government-type programs? He also has the lava lamp behind him. Interesting to see how, 10% of the way into this speech, he’s presented his story. Ah, now transitioning to talking straight and choosing respect over popularity as it applies to the challenges confronting the country. It’s interesting how the “not us, not now” leaders who won’t take action together on the big things and face hard truths definitely include his own party. Which of course he knows, part of the reason he sat this one out. And now on to how he balanced the budget and lowered taxes in New Jersey while protecting retirees and standing up to the teacher’s union. In other words, he’s making a really good case for the candidacy of- Chris Christie! Our ideas are right, their ideas have failed. Here’s what we believe versus what they believe. He of course is leading with biased bullshit about what “they” believe instead of trying to represent a nuanced picture of the opposition and why it’s wrong. but hey, it is a political convention.  Whoa, whoa, whoa- his folks are the ones driving us off the fiscal cliff on the gamble that they’ll be at the wheel of power when we fall! How I wish his side of “they” did actually believe in trusting the American people with the truth and bi-partisan work toward it. But it is an internally  coherent and energetic fiction he’s delivering, which once again leads me to believe he’s an excellent nominee for his party. Oh wait, but he’s not the nominee! Nor, did he mention the actual nominee until 17 minutes in to the speech. Oh for fuck’s sake really- putting federal bureaucrats between Americans and their doctor? The Affordable Health Care Act doesn’t do that. Not anywhere, in any provision, on any page. Still, a very solid “I believe in America” speech. And I can’t say I disagree with him that real leaders change polls instead of following them. That’s exactly what I and many other Progressives have been disappointed about. And I agree with him about the danger of more and more Americans slipping into second-class citizenship. I just disagree about who’s policies have led to that… Ha! Now he’s making the crowd literally stand up. Really well done, and if this guy was the nominee, I think Obama would be in serious trouble.    

All right, wrapping up with this little Bush featurette from Day Three:

That, of course, is as close to the stage as they’re willing to let a Bush get at this point. And that is a big deal- former Presidents are usually convention centerpieces, the Democrats even still trot out Jimmy Carter. Give them another four years, though, and they’ll be back. Darn if that isn’t quite a nicely produced little piece. Oh, and they even ended it with a plug for Romney.

Okay, that’s it for today. Now you have my reactions, and I’d love to have your’s.