GOP Convention: A Few Random Thoughts

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.

About Tim Suttle

Tim Suttle is a pastor, writer, and musician. He is the author of several books: Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), and An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade Books, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals. Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. He has planted three successful churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • scott stone

    Best line of the night was from Ann Romney: ” This is important. I want you to hear what I am going to
    say. Mitt does not like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point”.
    I thought the speeches by Mia Love (a rising star) and Artur Davis were some of the best. I liked the story woven by Rick Santorum but if he were the nominee I’d vote for Barack in a heartbeat.
    These conventions, both of them, are just political theater. Republicans will talk about how bad the president is and the president will in turn do the same.
    I agree with your recommendation for Mitt regarding his story. He shouldn’t run from his past, he should champion his successes. But I do disagree with your analysis that it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. That is not the narrative we hear anymore. Corporations are bad. CEO’s are evil. If you got rich it’s because you must have cheated or stepped on someone to get where you are. That or you just happen to “win lifes lottery” (straight from Dick Gephardt). There is an attempt to create antipathy for those who are successful.

  • http://philantilla.com Phil Antilla

    My favorite part was when she said Mitt and her went through some tough times when they were young, and even had to sell some of their stock.

    :-)

    • Tim Suttle

      I know, right?

  • Tim Suttle

    I know it’s easy to dismiss them as political theater, but I don’t want to do that. I still think they are important & that what is said should be carefully considered.

    It’s funny that I hear that caricature a fair amount – D’s think corps/CEOs are bad & evil. I don’t think it holds true to their rhetoric. As for my part, I’m trying to keep pointing out that corporations have been given far too much influence over government, and that laissez faire corporate policy is how you allow wealth to amass in the hands of one class of society. This will destabilize democracy. This is also, btw, the fault of both parties.

  • http://www.RandyBuist.com Randy Buist

    If we care about humanity beyond the top 1%, then it’s hard to make a case for Romney doing much good for the economy, for creating jobs, growing companies. Bain Capital was the sort of business that harmed the middle class more than helped it in any way, shape, or form during his tenure. To suggest that he showed leadership by shattering lives while making a few people very wealthy is not leadership whatsoever.

    Romney’s campaign hasn’t created one new idea nor have they highlighted much that Romney really stands for because he’s simply for wealth and power. While wealth and power are not necessarily evil, the way they’ve been used in the past decade for the gains of the few over all other things is alarming. This guy has no heart nor soul. His father, the former governor of Michigan, was a good man who found middle ground and showed great leadership. Mitt is a far cry from the values of his father.

    Read this recent article if you want to learn more about Mitt’s time at Bain Capital. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829

    • Tim Suttle

      I hear you Randy. But I think Romney’s less ideological than that. He’s a pragmatist and an executive. When he was running Bain he did whatever he had to do to make money. His job wasn’t to help people, but to make a profit by any means necessary, and he was good at it. Now, I think it says something troubling about him that he could do that job w/out serious moral issues, but the point is he was good at it. When his job was to run the Olympics he did that job very well in a very different manor. When his job was governor, he governed like a moderate, brought two sides together and passed significant healthcare legislation. He’s a pragmatist, not an ideologue. I have no doubt he could be a good president, except for one thing. The far right wing of his party has a gun to his head (case in point Paul Ryan is his running mate). Romney will have to please them & I’m not okay with that.

  • scott stone

    Isn’t it funny how so many things come back to CU. I don’t think corporations should be allowed to give ANY money to political campaigns. If we aren’t going to publicly fund them then baring corporations from the political process is at least a good alternative.

    • Tim Suttle

      Hear, hear!

  • scott stone

    See, I’m a reasonable conservative :)
    I thought after the Gabby Giffords tragedy the left said we weren’t allowed to use firearms metaphors.
    What in Mitts past gives you the certitude (which can be a dangerous thing) that he will have please the right wing? And it should be something other than his running mate because I’ll argue all day about Paul Ryan being far right wing. Once again I know him and you don’t.

    • Tim Suttle

      It’s really not about Mitt – he’s a pragmatist, not an ideologue. I think that the entire country is being held hostage by the extreme right wing of the Republican party. They would rather burn it all down than compromise and work with D’s to get things done.

      But, dude, brutha, mi amigo… Are you really going to say that Ryan isn’t right wing? This I gotta hear :-)

  • scott stone

    No. I agree that he is right wing. Far right wing, which I believe you label Ryan, is my argument. Far right wing is a pejorative. I believe Ryan is as right as President Obama is left. An analysis of his appointments would tend to support that theory.
    I actually like Obama/Biden, Romney/Ryan. I think all four are honorable men. This is a great election year because we have clearly defined differences. I’m one of the conservatives who thinks our country would have been worse off if McCain had been elected.

  • scott stone

    One other quick note. I really object to the political narrative you hear in the press, which is the same as you express. We are not being “held hostage”. The D’s own the senate and the executive branch. The Pres, for the first two years of his administration had EVERYTHING. Filibuster proof majorities. Fiscal policy is a lagging indicator, which means fiscal policy creates results a year or two down the road unlike monetary policy which is almost instantaneous. We are where we are as a direct result of policies implemented by the Obama administration. That is an undeniable fact.
    Like I said previously, I like the guy. But I also liked Jimmy Carter. It is far too easy to blame the right and say we are being “held hostage ” by the extreme right wing of the party. President Obama has to take responsibility for where we are. When is the last time you heard a President, in his fourth year, continue to blame the last President.
    Now I will admit there are some nut jobs in the house but no crazier than Pelosi. Reid in the senate hasn’t introduced a budget in almost 4 years. Once again I think it is a false narrative to just blame the R’s in the house for everything. It’s the easy way out.


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