Friday, August 31, 2012

Republican Convention - Night 3

So now, the Romney campaign can legally begin spending those general election funds...

First, some video.

Clint Eastwood:

Marco Rubio:

Mitt Romney:

And some thoughts on the night.
  • Instead of watching convention coverage all night, we went out to see 2016: Obama's America, the documentary from (and with) Dinesh D'Souza.  It covers material from his two Obama books, and was extremely well done.  And D'Souza has a couple of advantages in dealing with Obama that many conservatives don't have - his skin color is similar, and he also grew up in a third world country.  Suffice it to say that, despite the similarity of their backgrounds, their world-views are worlds apart.

  • The olympic athletes were a nice touch.  In some parts of the world, Mike Eruzione is a bigger attraction than Clint Eastwood.  Unfortunately, those parts of the world aren't going to vote for Mitt anyway.  I don't know, off the top of my head, how many Presidents have lost their home state in an election, but if there's a President Romney next year, he'll have lost Massachusetts.

  • I did notice former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. (under Romney) Kerry Healey at the podium as I fast-forwarded through the early evening coverage.  I lived through the Healey campaign against Deval Patrick for Governor in 2006, and forwarded faster.

  • It's easy to see why the Democrats view Marco Rubio as a threat.  He was very impressive last night.

  • I like Clint Eastwood.  I've loved a lot of his work, and it's clear that very few in Hollywood have ever had a career as strong as his.  But his Bob Newhart impersonation last night was a little nerve-wracking.  It wasn't clear, at times, that he knew what he was doing.  And then he'd show that, yes, he did.  I'm not certain how to characterize the performance, other than this - it was memorable.

  • Marco Rubio.  Chris Christie.  Susana Martinez.  Nikki Haley.  Paul Ryan.  There are times of talent drought, when we end up with a Bob Dole or a John McCain at the top of the ticket (or, on the other side, a Walter Mondale or a John Kerry).  But clearly, the Republican bench is very strong right now, and there should be no lack of quality candidates in four or eight or twelve years for Republican voters.

  • Mitt was strong last night.  I've seen a lot of comments to the effect that this was his best speech ever, and it may well have been, but I've been watching him for almost twenty years now, and that's the Mitt that I've seen.  He drives me crazy with some of his positions, but I've never had a sense, never seen anything to make me think, that he is anything other than a good man, all the way through.  A caring man, a faithful and loving husband, a man who is good to the people around him.  

  • Some highlights of the speech:
    I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.
    The soles of Neil Armstrong’s boots on the moon made permanent impressions on OUR souls and in our national psyche. Ann and I watched those steps together on her parent’s sofa. Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.
    God bless Neil Armstrong.
    Tonight that American flag is still there on the moon. And I don’t doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.
    But for too many Americans, these good days are harder to come by. How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?
    Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I’d ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.
    The President hasn’t disappointed you because he wanted to. The President has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.
    These are American success stories. And yet the centerpiece of the President’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success. Is it any wonder that someone who attacks success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression? In America, we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for it.
    We weren’t always successful at Bain. But no one ever is in the real world of business.
    That’s what this President doesn’t seem to understand. Business and growing jobs is about taking risk, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always striving. It is about dreams. Usually, it doesn’t work out exactly as you might have imagined. Steve Jobs was fired at Apple. He came back and changed the world.
    It’s the genius of the American free enterprise system – to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today’s.
    That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: “you are better off today than you were four years ago.”
    Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.
    President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY to help you and your family.

  • The people who have decided that he's just an evil rich guy, who doesn't care about anything other than a slight increase in the level of his "Scrooge McDuck money pool" won't have been influenced in the slightest by that speech last night.  But the ones who are open-minded, who came to it with a sincere curiosity, may have gotten what they needed to believe that it was OK to vote for a Republican. 

  • There are some offended by the "rise of the oceans" bit, claiming that Romney's mocking global warming climate change.  No, he's mocking Barack Obama's ridiculously overstated self-aggrandizement the night he clinched the Democratic nomination. And it should be mocked. It should have been mocked at the time, but better late than never.

  • Unlike Paul Ryan's speech, which was philosophical and ideological, Romney was pragmatic and personal.  He didn't talk about why some programs work and others don't; he just noted that Obama's aren't working and there are things that can be done. 

  • I noted yesterday the "more in sorrow than in anger" tone of Ryan's speech.  It continued with Romney's.  And again, that's the hand they've been dealt.  Americans are understandably touchy on the subject of race, and, the protestations of the media and the Democrats to the contrary, they do not want to be "unfair" to "the black guy."  It felt good to go into the voting booth and pull the lever for a black man, to personally repudiate the ancient history of slavery and the more recent history of Jim Crow.  Americans do not want to be racists, do not want to think of themselves as racists, and will bend over backwards to give the first black President the benefit of the doubt.  

    Less than a year after his election, I wrote that
    This President is President of the United States primarily because he's a black man. Otherwise, the tea parties would still be going on and the likes of Jimmy Carter would be talking about the animosity towards President Hillary Clinton being based on the fact that she's a woman. And Maureen Dowd would be writing about how the unspoken word after "you lie" was b--ch instead of boy. If Barack Obama weren't black, he'd be John Edwards. Without the resume. And the hair. A white man with Barack Obama's particular skills and background isn't even an interesting story in the primary. No, he's President because the press fell in love with the idea of electing a black man, and it superseded their love for the idea of electing a woman.
    That all remains true today.  What the Republicans are doing, out of necessity, is trying to give the undecided middle permission to vote against him, without feeling bad about it.  Hence the tone, which is just the right tone.

  • All in all, I thought that the Republicans had a good convention.  How much of it broke through into that undecided middle, I don't know.  I remain convinced that Mitt Romney will win the election in November, because I cannot see how a majority of Americans go into the voting booths and say, "yes, this is going well.  Let's continue!"  There are continuity elections and change elections, and this is the latter.

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