Final Thoughts on the GOP Convention – “You don’t really love that guy, do you baby?”

Back when I was in college my girlfriend (now my wife), and I broke up for a brief time, and a guy in my fraternity started calling her asking her out. That’s what Mitt Romney was doing last night at the GOP Convention, and he made an incredibly strong case for a break up.

“He doesn’t really love you, baby… I love you.”

Striking the traditional populist tone, Romney laid out the case for why the country should break up with Obama and fall in love with him. Any national convention will involve over-the-top nationalism – this is to be expected. Romney continued to imply that Barack Obama isn’t a true American. Romney’s birth certificate joke last week primed the pump for an entire convention of calling into question his love and loyalty for his country.

“Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, “I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!”

This sort of tack only really works if people think it might be true. When one in six voters believe that Obama is a Muslim, this rhetoric effectively taps into that “real America” theme Palin so effectively established four years ago. Romney needs those voters.

“You should hear what that other guy says about you when you’re not around!”

Romney, like Paul Ryan, has a little bit of trouble dealing in facts. In a line borrowed from his stump speech Romney said, “I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour.” Politifact gives this their worst rating, “pants on fire,” as an over the top break with reality. Nevertheless it is an effective way to try and draw a contrast. Telling the country, weary from four tough economic years, that your leader doesn’t have pure American motives will work with the GOP base and it may work in swing states where the economy is performing well.

“Listen, I can give you a lot of things that other guy can’t give you. You’re gonna get a shiny new car and a diamond ring out of this, baby.”

Here’s where Romney makes his best case. Nobody is over the top happy with the performance of Barack Obama. Romney took advantage of the fact that he can talk about a fantastic future, but he doesn’t have to deal in facts when he does. Obama has a record, and it’s not the best. Romney sets up the future in such general and populist terms, that to attempt to refute them Obama will risk looking like his doesn’t think the future is bright. That’s a tough needle to thread.

“You’re boyfriend’s a wimp. If anyone ever messed with you, I’d go to town on him. I’ll take care of you, baby.”

The war hawkish section was a bit mystifying, especially when the U.S.is actually fighting a war right now which Romney never addressed and gave no indication of what he might do. What he promised was a return to the days of Truman and Reagan.

“President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’sCuba. He abandoned our friends inPolandby walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to giveRussia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone. We will honorAmerica’s democratic ideals because a free world is a more peaceful world. This is the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency we will return to it once again.”

I thought this speech went as well as it could go for Romney. He struck just the right tone and for people who were looking for a reason to ditch Obama and go out with him, I think they found some compelling reasons. His likeability – seen as a real weakness – had to have improved over the course of the convention. All eyes are on the swing states and in the coming days we’ll know if Romney’s case for a break up worked in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. For all of the ruckus, the election comes down to those five states.

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 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. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving 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

    If I were to sum up the RNC in one statement, and I mean this in a positive sense, I’d say there was a little less testosterone from previous conventions.

  • Tim Suttle

    That’s a great point. I also think there was an effort on Romney’s part not to just get down in the dirt and wallow in it. His satellites did that to be sure, but he stayed above it. If you kill the don you can’t become the don.

  • http://onemorethingblog.blogspot.com Ryan Scott

    You might pull Ohio and Pennsylvania out of those swing states. New research I saw today says unless a significant number of registered Republicans vote for Obama, the voter ID laws passed in those states (right or wrong) will effectively hand the electoral votes to Romney.

    • Tim Suttle

      Hey ryan, would you mind posting a link to that research here? I’d like to read it.

  • John R Huff II

    Tim, Please respond with an article to the one by Dalmyrple “Barack Obama :The Empty Chair”
    It was very disrespectful and ugly and not very biblical as I see it.

  • http://dennisbarr.blogspot.com Dennis Barr

    The Republican Party is giving this country the party that we may deserve. After eight years of George W. Bush, people were tired of the GOP (more than they were of weasel-boy Democrats) and gave the Presidency to Barack Obama. That didn’t for one minute quiet the birthers, the climate-change deniers, or the character assassins working against the hope and change that the rest of us thought we might see in Obama’s administration. Sarah Palin is infamous for asking how that “hopey-changey thing is working for” us. Well, how _is_ it working for us?
    We haven’t seen the quick recovery we hoped for. We haven’t seen the change in Washington we hoped for. Our hope is threadbare and waning.
    And yet, for all that, I think the present President is the better of the two choices we have. Voting for any of the incidental candidates doesn’t really alter those two choices. Doing that, you’ve made your point, but your vote is irrelevant. I’m sorry if that’s someone’s sentiment, but that’s the way I see it – one or the other of these gentlemen is going to become (or stay) President.
    And what do I mean about the party that this country deserves? Well, there’s been a lot written about the lack of factual content in the speeches in Tampa this past week. Paul Ryan seems to be the poster boy for this wave of, shall we say, stretching the truth – or just flat ignoring it. If we as voters aren’t concerned about this disregard for honesty, then we truly deserve the government that may come from it.
    We always get the government we deserve, one way or another. We _are_ the government – not the big banks, not the multinational corporations, not the labor unions, and not any other special interest. It’s us, always has been us, and until this model of governance disappears, always will be us. If we’re lazy, careless, thoughtless, or ignorant, we’ll get the government – in the hands of those we put into office – that we deserve so richly.

  • Phil Bigdaddy

    Did you just compare the courting of your wife to a Presidential election?


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