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!