This was, of course, the night of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. But there was more to it than that. Unfortunately, in my view, that more included Clint Eastwood’s monologue at the top of the presumably vital 10:00 Eastern hour. (Vital, because that’s when the broadcast networks’ one hour of convention coverage begins; presumably, because it’s not clear what percentage of those getting information about the conventions get it these days from watching the broadcast networks.) What was the calculation here, that Eastwood’s celebrity would bring more viewers to click on the convention? That, as Pajamas TV’s Richard Fernandez argues, Eastwood made a strong case against Obama? My own view is that he was a distraction, coming between the beautiful Romney bio video (admittedly, not to be seen on broadcast TV, and even if it had been aired after the magic 10:00) and Marco Rubio’s introduction of Romney. Additionally, I though Rubio went on too long and that there was more about the Rubios here than was appropriate for his role. Rubio delivers a wonderful speech but he was not nominated by this particular Republican convention. Clearly the Romney campaign was not exercising the kind of iron control over speeches that the George W. Bush campaign did.
What the Romney campaign clearly did exercise control over was the series of speeches that preceded the video and the Eastwood intervention. The convention listened, in rapt silence (or something pretty close to that), to the testimony of members of Romney’s LDS Church on how he helped them cope with terrible personal problems. It was moving stuff, the more so as the speakers were clearly not polished pros but modest people performing up to and beyond what they may have thought were their personal capacities in addressing such a large TV and potentially unruly convention hall audience. The Olympians who came forward to testify to Romney’s performance were somewhat more polished, but impressive nonetheless. And we heard, from Romney’s lieutenant governor and others, how he promoted and relied on women in major assignments. Then came testimony about his business record, most forcefully from Tom Stemberg, the driving force behind Staples.
Romney’s speech was constructed more carefully than Paul Ryan’s, and the segues from one subject to another were more deft. One thing in common with this speech and with Ann Romney’s speech on Tuesday night is that they both described the Romneys’ personal lives in ways that resemble precisely those that so many other people’s. MSM and liberal Democrats want to portray the Romneys as thoughtless plutocrats, a description that probably fits some (but let’s be fair: not all) of the plutocrats these folks delight to hobnob with in the Hamptons and the Vineyard.
On Barack Obama, Romney spoke with the in-sorrow-more-than-anger tones other convention speakers have, for fairly obvious reasons, adopted.
“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.” Was this directed at the Nobel Peace Prize committee as well?
“Americans have been patient, . . . . but the time has come to turn the page.”
“His promises gave way to disappointment and disillusion.”
“The President has disappointed America because he has led America in the wrong direction.”
“This president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office.”
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
Some delegates leaving the hall told me that Romney was good, but not as good as Paul Ryan. But good enough, they added, for the purpose at hand. And a successful convention, on the whole; really quite successful, on the whole. A reasonable assessment, I think, but one that leaves us more to think about.