Now that 20,000 soggy delegates, alternates, lobbyists and political hangers-on have left Tampa, Fla., what can we say about the just-concluded Republican convention?
Ron Paul fans weren’t given much to cheer about. Yes, there was a brief video tribute to the man himself. And his son, Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky, was given a second-tier speaking slot. But the convention rules were rigged so that Ron Paul’s name could not even be placed in nomination for President — with the result that none of his delegates had a chance to vote for him.
Oh, there was one other nod to the Paul camp: The Republican platform endorsed his longtime demand to audit the Federal Reserve. Granted, an audit is a long way from Paul’s far more meaningful campaign to abolish the Fed. But it’s a start.
We should also be cheered that a bill demanding such an audit actually passed the House of Representatives this year. It’s no surprise that Harry Reid made sure it never saw the light of day in the Senate. But I think it’s safe to say that Paul’s “End the Fed” campaign made more progress this year than in the past 20. And I was glad to see that it got at least a crumb or two from the Republican powers that be.
Conservative friends who were at the convention have told me, with considerable pride, that the Republican platform for 2012 is “the best one we’ve seen in the past 20 years.” Looking over the various provisions in it, they’re probably right. But so what?
Sorry, but how many minds do you think will be changed — or how many votes will be won (or lost) — by anything that is in either party’s platform? Party platforms are much ado about nothing. I liked the suggestion from House Speaker John Boehner, who suggested that the whole thing should be boiled down to one page. “Do you know anyone who’s ever read the platform?” he asked. Clearly, the question was meant to be rhetorical.
I don’t have anything to say now about Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. Thanks to the deadline schedule for Personal Liberty, I have to turn this column in before he delivers it. But let me say a few words about some of the other tub-thumpers I heard leading up to it.
First, Paul Ryan did exactly what he was supposed to do. In his acceptance speech for the Vice Presidential nomination on Wednesday night, he lambasted Barack Obama for his failed policies and lack of leadership. He came across as smart and sincere, ready to argue the issues and passionate about helping change the country’s direction. He was interrupted by applause more than any other speaker in Tampa; let’s see if the head of the ticket does as well.
Let me also note something everyone agrees on: Ann Romney did a wonderful job in her prime-time speech Tuesday night. She was warm, personable, loving and sincere. Brit Hume, Fox News’ veteran analyst, said it was the best convention speech he had ever heard, bar none.
I thought she did a decent job trying to humanize her husband and an incredible job appealing to other women. No one could doubt the passion and the trust in her voice, when she declared: “This man will not fail. This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America.”
I wondered how the left would try to turn Romney’s smashing performance into a negative. On Wednesday morning, I got my answer. The New York Times began its coverage of her speech with this: “She may be too good. Ann Romney is so gifted at politics, she may actually make her husband look a little bad.”
How’s that for damning with faint praise? But wait, it gets even worse. Here’s the rest of the article’s opening:
Their personality gap — her ease, his discomfort — has been evident in most of the many joint interviews they have given television reporters.
But it really stood out during her bold, boisterous testimonial to him at the Republican convention on Tuesday night. She was electric — when Mitt Romney came to her side at the end, he somehow sapped the energy from the moment.
Gee, just think how nasty The Times would have been if she’d done a bad job! Still, I suspect the overwhelming majority of Americans — men and women — will prefer Ann Romney’s enthusiastic sweetness to Michelle Obama’s icy toughness. If the Mitt Romney campaign is smart, we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from Ann Romney over the next two months, both in live appearances and in commercials.
I wasn’t blown away by Chris Christie’s tough-love keynote address. He may have had the best one-liner of the convention, though, with this remark: “Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”
The theme of his remarks was the need “to choose respect over love.” It seemed to me that it got a little stretched when he said that choosing respect over love meant telling the truth about entitlements to senior citizens and telling the truth about debt to working families. Somehow, I don’t see either of those becoming a popular bumper sticker.
Several reporters jumped all over the New Jersey Governor for talking a lot more about himself than he did about Mitt Romney. Although I didn’t have a stopwatch on him, it’s probably true that Christie didn’t mention the Republican nominee by name until he was 16 minutes into his peroration.
OK, so maybe he did go on about his Sicilian mother a little too long. But give the guy a break. His job was to put some juicy red meat in front of the assembled delegates. Overall, he performed that task very well.
By the way, so did someone who got very little coverage in the mainstream media. I’m referring to Artur Davis, the black former Congressman and longtime Democrat who actually seconded Obama’s nomination in Denver four years ago. Davis is now a Republican. His speech on Tuesday should help win over some independents and disenchanted Democrats. I hope a bunch of them saw it.
Now, forgive me as I sign off. I want to hear how Marco Rubio does introducing Mitt Romney — and how the candidate himself comes across. Forget sweet and cuddly; what America needs now is a strong and forceful leader. Let’s see if Romney can convince enough Americans that he’s the one.
Those two talks on Thursday night will go a long way to determining whether Romney or Obama carries Florida this November. Whoever wins the Sunshine State will probably win the White House, too.
So tell all your friends in Florida to vote early and vote often.
Just kidding. This isn’t Chicago, you know.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.