A few random thoughts on the GOP Convention last night.
I enjoyed listening to Mrs. Romney, who so clearly loves her husband and was an engaging speaker. Her speech was touching, sweet at times and made me like her quite a lot. I already tend to like Mitt Romney, but she made me like him more.
My only critique of her speech was that I’m troubled by the narrative they are trying to build around the governor. Romney’s is not a self made man, nor is he a rags to riches success. He is the son of a rich and powerful father. George Romney was the head of American Motors, Governor of Michigan, cabinet member, and former presidential candidate. Mitt’s affluent upbringing is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t run from it, use it! He knows how to navigate power & has been leading things his whole life… run on that. You can’t take a guy who was born on third base and claim he hit a triple (which is, by the way, something Romney himself never seems to do). You can only bend reality so far before you begin to detach from it. He needs to run like Dubya ran: pragmatic, compassionate conservatism and great leadership. The problem is that his party is not into this narrative. More on than in a moment.
Christie’s speech was energetic and fun. It was classic party politics on the World Series-like stage, and Christie hit a long shot to the warning track for an easy out. ABC News kept panning to Romney to show his response to the speech & I kept thinking of the line from one of my kid’s favorite movies Ice Age as a way to compare Christie and Romney: he’s tons of fun & [Romney’s] no fun at all. Christie was engaging, articulate, smart, and likable. He delivered the speech perfectly. What he didn’t do was make a case for Romney. I can’t believe Romney’s people let Christie fail at that one simple task. Instead Christie chose to slam the president and continue to drive a wedge of animosity between R’s and D’s. He slammed teachers unions and tried to make this sentimental nostalgic appeal to a simpler time when everyone could have the American dream… it sounds hollow coming from the party who only seems willing to fight only for rich folks and corporations. He did the only thing R’s seem to know how to do anymore: sew the seeds of discontent.
The most perplexing line was:
“…When there are people in the room who care more about doing the job they were elected to do than worrying about winning re-election, it is possible to work together to achieve principled compromise and get results.”
That was an indictment of the GOP – not the president. Say what you will about Obama, he’s been willing to bend over backwards to compromise. When I hear Christie complain about how Washington is paralyzed I have to be honest and admit that the GOP did everything they could do to make Washington contentious, ineffective, and hated precisely so that they can run against it right now. The GOP committed to this strategy years ago and they can’t move away from it. They have been doing everything they can do to wreck the federal government so that they could blame it on President Obama at precisely this moment. It’s too prosaic… I don’t think anybody will buy it.
Nobody made the strongest argument for Romney’s candidacy: he’s a strong executive who knows how to run a country. I’m guessing they’ll make that case tonight.