Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Republican convention - Night 1

Thoughts on the Republican convention.  I haven't seen all of the speeches, and won't.  I obviously won't see all of the coverage, as there are at least seven, and probably significantly more, carrying all of it simultaneously.  Every hour of convention activity will produce seven+ hours of media coverage - no one will see it all.

But I've seen, and will see, some, and have some thoughts.

First, some general thoughts.
  • Let's face it - the appeal of most of the nights at this event, and the Democrats' next week, is limited.  The networks are covering only small portions of it, and frankly, even in the hall the attendees are mostly doing other things.  The room is full for about that period that gets major network coverage.  Which is appropriate.  If you're not living in Utah, you're not voting for or against Mia Love.  If you're not living in Texas, you're not voting for or against Ted Cruz.  And they aren't going to influence your vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
  • In fact, you can make a strong argument that, for an individual, paying any attention to politics, educating oneself and voting, is a waste of time.  Certainly at the national level, a single ballot is never going to be the difference.  And when a race is close enough that hundreds of ballots matter, the numbers aren't precise enough for a single vote to have mattered anyway.
  • I follow politics and vote in elections anyway.  I suspect that I view it as an inherent civic duty.  Certainly, it makes me feel good to participate in an election and cast an informed ballot.
And on to the event...
  • Ok, this should have been night 2, but it wasn't.  Hurricane Isaac, and the ceaseless vigilance of the media in monitoring Republican behavior lest they do something unseemly, washed out the first day.
  • Noteworthy from night one was the number of women on the podium, from Mia Love to Nikki Haley to Ann Romney, with others sprinkled in.
  • As I've already noted, Mia Love's speech was good.  A good introduction to her for the American people, at least the 17 outside Tampa who saw it.  
  • For the last couple of hours last night, I did see quite a lot of the convention, and simultaneously watched my twitter feed.  So I have a sense of what some people thought about what was going on, and I have my own reactions.
  • I believe, strongly, that the Democratic party, and Democratic policies, are far worse for black Americans than Republican policies.  I believe that eventually, many black Americans will realize that.  So I enjoyed Artur Davis' speech (which I posted earlier.)  He's had the "come to Jesus" moment, and is a man who is capable of bringing others to it.  That was a "good get" for the Republicans.  
  • The prominent crossover speaking in Charlotte next week is former Florida Governor Charlie Crist.  Advantage: Republicans.
  • I don't dislike Rick Santorum.  I agree with him on many issues.  And there's nothing wrong with a pro-life speech.  But I just wanted him off the stage.  He's been demonized, successfully, and little good accrues to the Republicans when he's visible.
  • I heard some good things about Ted Cruz' speech, but didn't see it myself.  
  • I heard some good things about Nikki Haley's speech, and did see it.  Thought it was fine, nothing special, generic convention fodder.
  • I did not love Ann Romney's speech the way that a lot of people did.  I thought the first half of it was extremely defensive, pandering to women in a "lady doth protest too much" kind of way.  As if trying to refute, with words, the accusations of a "war on women" and doing it in a heavy-handed way that was not attractive or effective.  The speech got better as she went on, talking about their life.  But on the whole, I'm unconvinced that, as one commentator tweeted, that "Americans will love her."  
  • On the other hand, I thought much better of Chris Christie's speech than some did.  I've seen some lamentation over the lack of "red meat," but I thought Christie hit all of the right notes.  This is a serious time, that requires serious, hard work, and he talked about it in those terms.  It's not the time for frivolity.  We have deep and worsening financial problems, and they require fixes, they require buy-in, and, frankly, they require some pain.  What they don't require is "the politics of personal destruction."  Barack Obama's record in office speaks for itself.  The Christie message is that there are problems, they need to be fixed, and the current President is an obstacle to getting them fixed.  Period.  I think it's the right message.

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