Five Observations from Romney’s Convention Speech

Five Observations from Romney’s Convention Speech August 31, 2012

A hearty congratulations to everyone involved in the Romney campaign for the smashing success of the convention finale, and an equally hearty congratulations to all of those outside the campaign — like my friends at Evangelicals for Mitt — who believed that this was the man for our time.  They persevered through much, soldiered on, and last night they were triumphant.

And congratulations most of all to Mitt Romney.  It was a long, hard slog.  He and Ann really had to assess after the failure in 2008. Did they want to go through that again?  They prayed through it, took counsel, and in the end decided to press forward in the belief that this was Romney’s calling.  Last night, Mitt and Ann, more than anyone, deserved congratulations, and they were clearly overwhelmed at the site of so much support after dealing for so long with so much doubt and opposition.

It was a beautiful thing to watch.  Here were five of my favorite moments.

  1. What made the speech so successful last night was that Americans finally saw the character of Mitt Romney.  Long-time supporters like myself have known that Mitt Romney is a fundamentally decent human being who truly believes in this country, truly believes in helping others, and truly feels that he has been called to this role in life.  We’ve wished that others could see it.  Last night, they did.  What Americans saw on the podium in Tampa last night was no Romneybot 2012.  They saw a man of flesh and blood, a man who was visibly moved and emotional throughout most of the speech — but especially when he spoke of his family.  A man who speaks humbly of himself but proudly of America.  A man with an extraordinary family legacy received from his parents and passed on to his children.  Romney will never be the kind of guy who puts his works of charity on display or who wears his heart on his sleeve.  But last night Americans got to see that this really means something to Romney.
  2. One of my mentors liked to say: Being a leader means living a life worth following.  The person Americans saw last night, that was a leader.  That was a person who has lived a worthy life.  That was a person that other people will follow.
  3. Romney did not say much about particular social issues, but he united a vision of cultural renewal with economic renewal, knitting together the social and the economic and the foreign policy issues that matter to conservatives.  He sounded the right tone here: “My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all. The gift of unconditional love.  They cared deeply about who we would be and much less about what we would do.  Unconditional love is a gift that Ann and I have tried to to pass on to our sons and now to our children. All the laws and legislation is in the world will never heal the world like the loving hearts and arms of loving mothers and fathers. You know, if every child could go to sleep feeling rest in the love of their family and God’s love, this world would be a far more gentle place.”  Is it sentimental?  Yes.  But it’s absolutely correct.
  4. As I said in a prediction post yesterday, Romney projected Reaganite optimism.  He was not angry at Obama but disappointed, eager to turn the face on four years of “divisiveness and recriminations” and turn toward a brighter future.  Here’s where it came through the most clearly: “The America we all know has been a story of many becoming
    one. United to preserve liberty, uniting to build the greatest the economy in the world, uniting to save the world from
    unspeakable darkness.  Everywhere I go there are monuments for those who have given their lives for America.  There is no mention of their race, their party affiliation, or what they did for a living. They lived and died under a single flag, fighting for a single purpose. They’ve pledge allegiance to the United States of America. That America, that united America can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, taht will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and will restore every father and mother’s confidence that their children’s future is brighter even than the past.  That American, that united America will preserve a military that’s so strong no nation will ever dare to test it.  That America, that America, that united America will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our creator and codified in our Constitution. That united America will care for the poor and sick, will honor and respect the elderly and will giving a helping hand to those in need.  That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.”  Beautiful stuff.
  5. If there were two parts of Romney’s biography missing from his convention speech last night, they were (i) his work as a local leader in the Mormon Church in Boston and (ii) his four years in the Governor’s seat on Beacon Hill.  We heard more about Michigan than Boston.  It’s understandable — and probably the right decision — but unfortunate it has to be that way.  Romney’s experience leading his fellow Mormons through changes and challenges, supporting families in need and counseling those in crisis, show his humanness, his compassion and his character.  It’s unfortunate he cannot speak of this too much without arousing the concern of non-Mormons, and especially my fellow evangelicals.  Romney’s experience on Beacon Hill actually speaks much better of him than his critics allege (I was there), but it’s exceedingly difficult to communicate all the complexities of doing politics in Boston, and those issues were so thoroughly demagogued in the primary that they had to go unmentioned.  That’s too bad as well, because Romney did some remarkable things in his years in the Governor’s mansion, in spite of what the critics say.

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