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.


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