The convention was shortened due to Hurricane Isaac. That had the advantage of eliminating “The Donald” who was rumored to have had a speaking slot. Sometimes less is more, as when Bush 43 spent close to a third of his presidency on vacation … to the considerable benefit of the country.
Opening night gave us Mrs. Romney, whose mission it was to convince us that hers was not a storybook marriage and that Mitt was a loving, caring, generous, thoughtful man. She mentioned her five children and the rigors of caring for them. She spoke of her bout of breast cancer and her current medical issues with MS, which has been in remission for many years. She was loving and sincere but for many families with those health issues there would have been a great concern about doctor and hospital bills. Mrs. Romney never mentioned having a problem paying medical bills. At the end of Mrs. Romney’s peroration Mitt stepped up on stage and they hugged. Their affection for each other was obvious but Mitt’s plastic smile was as unconvincing as ever and I think the viewers were right back where they started.
Next came Governor Christie: His job was to throw red meat to the audience lest anyone think Mrs. Romney’s talk meant the party was going soft. After some seventeen minutes of self-pumping, of telling the audience what a great job he had done as governor of New Jersey and apparently preparing the audience for his 2016 run for the presidency, the governor mentioned the candidate. I doubt that Governor Christie will be offered a prominent role in any Romney administration.
There were other interesting speakers: Senator Santorum again talked fondly of his immigrant coal miner grandfather’s firm handshake. He did not discuss his grandfather’s politics, perhaps because his grandfather’s politics were far enough to the left to attract very unfavorable attention from Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. That had much to do with why grandfather got out of Italy. Oh well, the man did have a great handshake. Interestingly, Santorum rarely mentions his father. Santorum tells us he was brought up in government housing. His father was a Ph.D. psychologist working for the VA. His position with the VA entitled him to housing so the housing Santorum lived in as a kid was probably not tenement style.
As a sidebar here: The Republican Party Platform has been much more influenced by Ryan’s and by Santorum’s views on abortion than by Romney’s. The party platform will push for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions. There seem to be no exceptions. Moreover the party apparently believes a fertilized egg is a person even if it lodges in a fallopian tube. Such a “person” cannot survive and if it is not removed will certainly kill the mother. Having a few prominent women speaking at the convention will not bring women into a Republican party with these views. When Reince Prebus was reminded that the platform differed considerably from Romney’s (current) views on abortion, he responded the platform was the party’s position not the candidate’s position. Does this mean that we should not expect candidate Romney to pursue these positions if he is elected president? If that’s what it means then why have a platform?
Dr. Condoleezza Rice had a prominent speaking spot. She would have made a great VP pick, but no; she is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. That killed that! So Romney was left with Ryan who is somewhat challenged in the “truthiness” department. One example was Ryan complaining about Obama not pushing for the passage of Simpson-Bowles when Ryan himself had voted against bringing it to the full house. Ryan claimed the reason was because he had his own bill that he wanted to push. If he hadn’t wanted Simpson-Bowles, for whatever reason, why hammer Obama who apparently agreed with him? He wasn’t at all clear about that.
Indeed, now the Republicans are going after the fact checkers. Their claim is that the fact checkers are biased and they’re wrong into the bargain. I guess if you’re going to lie about things it’s a good idea to start by discrediting the fact checkers. “Those cops who caught me robbing the bank; they’re really the crooks.” Who knows, maybe it’ll work.
Much of the energy that might have gone to Romney’s speech was sucked out of it by Clint Eastwood’s curious performance. Everyone has seen that ten minute delight. Eastwood, with a death grip on the lectern, has a conversation with an imaginary Obama sitting in a chair beside him. At one point Eastwood says, “I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself.” Nice little off-color bit that surely played well to the Romneys and their grandchildren seated in the audience. Later there was much hue and cry about this unrehearsed unscripted improv. None of Romney’s team wanted responsibility for it. Indeed the whole thing has been edited out of a summary of the convention speeches. There is now some speculation that Eastwood had hit the sauce a bit too heavily before he came on stage. However that may be, we are left with the image of a an old befuddled Republican white man talking down to an invisible black man who just happened to be President of the United States. Now there’s a pig that won’t be helped by any amount of lipstick!
I could go on but I don’t want any readers of this piece to become dangerously apoplectic.