This week, the Republican National Convention wrapped up in Tampa, FL. There were the usual claims/counter claims by pundits on the network and cable news & opinion shows, although the comment by the Yahoo!News yahoo that "the Republicans are happy to have a party while black people are drowning" was more than a little over the line (Yahoo!News has since fired the individual).
Over all, I was very impressed (and more than a little surprised) with both the tone and substance of the event. Instead of the constant diet of political "red meat" hoped for by the more rabid partisans, we got almost a reiteration of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America", although no one used that phrase or even mentioned former President Reagan.
While President Obama's failures of policy were illustrated, sometimes pointedly, it wasn't done with the venom that so turns some independents away from politics. Despite cries from the left that it was unfair to make some of those claims, even claiming that some of the speakers were lying outright, Obama's record is perfectly legitimate material for debate. (The claim that Paul Ryan's reference to the closing of a GM plant was a "pants on fire" by fact checkers turns out to itself be less than honest. While the decision to close the plant was made late in 2008, it didn't actually close until April of 2009. While campaigning, Barack Obama, in a speech at that same GM plant, said that "with the support of government, this plant will be making cars for another 100 years." Apparently, when he took over GM, closing dealerships, illegally forcing bondholders to take a loss in order to give the union a large stake in the company as payback for their support, using taxpayer funds to bailout GM and strengthen the union's pension, he forgot his promise to the men and women working the line at that plant. "Pants on fire"? Not so much.)
The general tone of the event was not what has gone before, but what lies ahead. The speeches outlining what conservatives believe and love about their country far outweighed any "Obama bashing".
My favorite moments included speeches by Ann Romney, Mayor Love of Utah, (former Secretary of State) Condoleeza Rice, Gov. Martinez, Gov. Haley & Sen. Marco Rubio.
Ann Romney did a fantastic job of introducing her husband to the wider public audience. Largely dispelling the "silver spoon" moniker, she recounted their start as a young couple in a basement apartment, where their desk was a door on a couple of stands and their dinner table was a fold down ironing board. She reminded those who claim that Mitt Romney is an out of touch, greedy rich guy that when he rescued the Olympics in Salt Lake City he did so without taking a salary, when he was Gov. of Massachusetts he took no salary, and when he went back to turn around the disaster that was the "Big Dig" he, again, took no salary. Hardly the actions of a greedy man. Secretary Rice brought down the house with her speech, closing with a personal account of the opportunities available in America; her mother and father, while they couldn't take her to a restaurant in the segregated south, still loved the country enough to convince her that, even if she couldn't eat a hamburger at the Woolworth's lunch counter, she could grow up to be anything, even President of the United States, and that little girl did grow up to become Secretary of State. Mayor Love, Gov.'s Martinez & Haley, & Sen. Rubio also recounted their own personal versions of the American success story. Marco Rubio recounted his father working 16 hr days and working for a time as a convention bartender saying, "My father was happy for the work, but it wasn't the life he wanted for his children. My father worked at the bar in the back of the room so that someday I could stand behind the podium at the front of the room". Each of these speakers had their own individual story of immigrating with little or nothing and/or coming up from desperate conditions to become successful. So much for the War on Women and Republican "hatred" of immigrants. All off the speeches illustrated the promise that is America. The promise of opportunities largely unavailable in any other country. They exemplify the ethic of hard work and dedication bringing success. The Republicans are often accused of not being "diverse". This lineup of speakers gives the lie to those claims.
The speeches by Gov. Christy, Rep. Paul Ryan, and Mitt Romney himself were hardly any less inspiring. It was widely expected that Chris Christy would reprise his role as an attack dog against the Obama administration. However, while he did have more than a few criticisms of the current administration, his speech was not the bombastic assault many expected (and more than a few were hoping for, to be honest). Instead, he spoke to the need to turn things around and of a vision of what is possible for the future, referencing his time as Governor of New Jersey. His speech was more about making things better in the future than lamenting the failures of the past. Paul Ryan was the highlight of the event on Wednesday night. His speech was likewise all about the plans for the future of the country, talking about his and Mr. Romney's plans to get the country back to work, eliminate Obamacare and truly address the problems with healthcare costs, and the need to restructure the Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security entitlement programs in order to avoid their collapse in the not to distant future, preserving the programs for current seniors and those near retirement age while changing how the programs are structured and funded to ensure they remain viable in the future as a supplement to those young enough to adapt and make changes to their own retirement plans. The climax was Mitt Romney's acceptance speech on Thursday evening. He wasn't flashy & he didn't set the world on fire. Instead, he was something not often seen in politics today. He was sincere. He was honest. He was real. He delivered his speech with an open earnestness reminiscent of America in a bygone age. Human? He was supremely so. In fact, he at times seemed to be something more. In spite of his obvious wealth, we saw the "every man" his critics said he could never be. He can't relate to the problems and desires of regular Americans? Go back and listen to the part of his speech where he relates the early years of his marriage to Ann where he talks about the long hours and weekends, about 5 boys who "felt a need to re-enact a different world war every night". Where he said "if you were to ask Ann or myself what we'd give to be able to break up just one more fight between the boys, or to wake up and see a pile of boys in your bedroom......well, every parent knows the answer to that question." Not a dry eye in the house, indeed. Tell me again how this man is cold, greedy, heartless and uncaring of the poor.
The Republican party put on a very effective event illustrating their governing philosophy and their plans for a prosperous future for America, calling on people of all faiths and political leanings to come together, contrasting that with the alternative promoted by President Obama and the Democratic party, which seems primarily to be based on a program of division along the lines of class, ethnicity, and gender/sexual orientation.
The Romney/Ryan ticket is the best opportunity for the Republicans to retake the White House in November, and the policies promoted by them (if they are followed up on and implemented as promised) are the best hope for a return to a prosperous America many of us feared gone forever.
The Democrats are holding their convention this next week in Charlotte, NC. I will predict here and now that the tone of their convention will be much different that what was on display in Tampa. We will see much greater viciousness towards their political opponents. We will see attacks and accusations flying thick and heavy. We will hear predictions of the devastation to come if the Republicans win the election. We will hear claims that the administration's actions and economic policies have worked/are working (despite any objective evidence). We will definitely hear that the Republicans want to raise taxes on the middle class in order to give huge tax cuts to "millionaires and billionaires". What we won't hear or see is an optimistic vision of America's future. What we won't hear or see are any specific plans for the improvement of the American economy.
Liberal/Progressive Democrats accuse the Republicans of being the party
of "angry white guys". Odd that none of them showed
up at the event in Tampa. I guess we'll have to wait for them to show up in Charlotte.