Friday, August 31, 2012

Conventional wisdom

It says here that Republicans accomplished their primary goal at this week's convention: Reintroducing Mitt Romney to Americans in a more personal, less robotic manner.

Moreover, Romney's acceptance speech was generally stirring, certainly well-delivered. In short, it was widely acclaimed as the best speech he's ever given. His personal story was touching and memorable. His economic promises - albeit hardly specific - were authoritative. But his negative tone about climate change and his cowboy stance on Iran and Russia were disturbing.

That said, Romney no doubt will get a big bounce in the polls, as most nominees do in the days immediately following a convention. By a variety of measurements, his official coronation was a success.

But that doesn't mean the convention was without its head-scratching moments.

For example:

- Clint Eastwood's appearance was a disaster. It was even more troublesome when you realize that some bright convention planner(s) actually made him the lead attraction in the 10 p.m. hour on the final night, the time when all the major network cameras are focused on the podium for the dramatic conclusion of the event. Eastwood's rambling, often incoherent remarks were bizarre, at best, disrespectful to the nominees, the delegates and the incumbent president, at worst.

- Even if Eastwood had hit a home run, his prime time slot meant that a film profile of Romney aired before 10 p.m., not as the lead in to the nominee's acceptance speech. Even Romney's political foes likely would say the film, which aired on cable, was well-done and effective. It deserved the much larger audience that the networks would have provided, and it absolutely should have been followed by the dramatic spotlight on the nominee as he strode to the microphone.

- Marco Rubio's introduction of Romney was nicely delivered. But, as with other convention speakers, like the GOP governors, including keynoter Chris Christie, it was less about the nominee and more about the speakers themselves. Who's coming out party was this, anyway?

- Paul Ryan impressed as an orator, if not as a truth-teller, as has been well-documented by many fact-checkers from both sides of the aisle.

- There were several accurate and admiring references to America being a nation of immigrants. Meanwhile, many in the party are trying to close the door on immigration.

- There were several accurate and admiring references to government project - Romney's salute to astronaut Neil Armstrong and America's moon mission among them. Yet the GOP is marketing itself as the "less government" party.

- Ann Romney's gave a moving speech with a central theme of "love." Then Chris Christie came on to ditch "love" and push "respect." No need for those two terms to be mutually exclusive. As for the back-to-back contradictions, convention organizers blamed it on the one day delay of the proceedings due to the tropical storm, forcing a condensing of the schedule. OK, but this was too important an event for a better adjustment not to be made.

- The polls say Republicans have little chance of attracting minority voters. There sure weren't many of them in the convention hall.

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