Friday, August 31, 2012

Romney Speech Full of Sound and Not Much Fury

See Mitt run, see Mitt has empathy.

In all fairness to Mitt, though, it didn't have as many distortions as Paul Ryan's catastrophe. I won't mention Clint Eastwood, oops, just did.

Yet, like a lot of observers, I don't know what to make of the whole exercise known as the Republican National Convention 2012, except to feel, as an outside observer, that it didn't amount too much. It will be analyzed for its truthiness, thanks to Ryan's whoopers, and that can't be good, even if the Republican ticket's handlers said that they wouldn't be intimidated by fact-checkers (what?). In the end, no amount of misty-eyed, empathetic-looking, "I care about your family" rhetoric is going to help Romney out of the first impression of voters that he's, well, kind of a stiff and a guy with few, clear policy positions other than "I'm not Obama."

Let's sample some opinion around the country:

Washington Post:
But Mr. Romney mostly repeated his five rather vague priorities for fixing the economy, adding little meat to the gauziness of past declarations. There was nostalgia for an earlier era of greater American confidence, without much detail about how to achieve a restoration. Promising to begin his presidency “with a jobs tour” — and jabbing, inaccurately, at Mr. Obama for starting his with an “apology tour” — is not a substitute for a serious policy.
Okay, I left out the part of the editorial that said Romney sorta, kinda did okay at other parts. Meh.

New York Times:
Mr. Romney’s big speech, delivered in a treacly tone with a strange misty smile on his face suggesting he was always about to burst into tears, was of a piece with the rest of the convention. Republicans have offered precious little of substance but a lot of bromides (“A free world is a more peaceful world!”) meant to convey profundity and take passive-aggressive digs at President Obama. But no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.
I did leave out the part where they didn't like Romney's distortions about how the Republicans tried to help Obama succeed. Jeez.

In Tampa on Thursday night, Mitt Romney delivered what was probably the best, most effective and most revealing speech of his life. But the bar for that achievement was low. And while Romney was smooth, warm and at times endearing, his speech was not quite the command performance that might solve the lasting problem of his personal image.
 "...the lasting problem of his personal image." I think that means that he's not that likeable and doesn't have any great ideas other than me wants to be president bad.

Graphic from Newsweek: Are they trying to tell us something?


Let's be blunt: he failed. Romney, never an electrifying presence, couldn't generate enough wattage to power a refrigerator light. 

Romney showed rare and genuine emotion talking about his parents. Not to get all Freudian on you, but one wonders if he knows deep in his heart that his kook-right pandering and hiding his tax returns would not meet with George Romney's approval. “My folks gave us the greatest gift of all,” Romney said, “unconditional love.” And a free ride to Harvard. And stock options.
Okay, this is Paul Begala, a pretty partisan dude, but Newsweek put his opinion at the top of their list, and other writers were no less unkind.

USA Today:
After 5½ years of campaigning for president, Willard Mitt Romney took his most important step toward telling the American people who he is and what he stands for.

In doing so, he appeared to unify a Republican Party that had doubted both his record and his resolve. It helped that he brought his new best friend, a rock-ribbed conservative running mate named Paul Davis Ryan, along for the ride.
If there are any misgivings remaining among the party faithful, their determination to run President Obama out of the White House in November may be incentive enough to join the Romney-Ryan bandwagon.
This was the kindest evaluation I saw, but then I looked for the mainstream opinion. Still, pretty tepid, eh?

One more interesting take, one I really didn't like, especially because it may be true:

Nate Silver (NY Times):
Instead, Mr. Romney’s strategy was pretty clear. He was seeking to fulfill the role of the generic Republican — a safe and unobjectionable alternative with a nice family and a nice career – and whose main credential is that he is not Mr. Obama, the Democratic president with tepid approval ratings and middling economic numbers.
It may be a smart approach.
 I hope not. See you later in the campaign. Next up: the Democratic National Convention. Any bets Barack Obama's speech will be better?

Ah, he didn't lay a glove on me.

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