The Republican National Convention – Not Ready for Prime Time

The hot lights are gone and the hot air with it as the Republicans mercifully left Tampa at the conclusion of their national convention.

Talk about a tidal surge of empty rhetoric.

I’m all about some American optimism, but we’ve seen this jingoistic flag waving before – circa George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Except this time around the Republicans ignored the Bush/Cheney administration as if it never happened, they didn’t mention the troops, and refused to acknowledge the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Convenient considering those issues are working against Republicans this time around.

GOP nominee Mitt Romney gave a big speech Thursday night. In it he did manage to show some personality and humanistic traits by touching on memories of his mother, father and children.

It was the best speech of Romney’s political career, but maybe fourth best of the convention. Like every other speech heard over three days it was vacant of specifics on how any of the party’s promises could actually be achieved.

The Republicans provided no answers because they have none.

They have no viable alternative to universal health care, except trust us, we’ll make it work.

I found it highly amusing that Romney insinuated that the United States would be energy independent by 2020. Let me get this one straight, we are broke, running a deficit and import around half our petroleum needs. There isn’t a scientist or engineer alive that would validate Romney’s statement as having any validity.

In turn Romney mocked President Obama for addressing climate change, I’m guessing to appease the Tea Party faithful, but it came off as small minded and obtuse.

There are city planners in New York City, Miami, southern Louisiana and Galveston, Texas that are seriously challenged by encroaching water levels right now.

Romney’s speech took a decidedly dark turn towards warmongering at its conclusion. After complimenting Obama for making the call to take out Osama bin Laden, he chastised the president for showing patience with his handling of Iran and Russia.

The last thing this country needs is another war.

Republicans also took a hit by allowing Clint Eastwood to address the convention unscripted. His rambling tirade to an empty chair supposedly containing President Obama was embarrassing and disrespectful.

More importantly, Eastwood’s doddering in prime time meant most of the country missed the movie that came on before, which showcased a personal side to Romney that no one else or the candidate himself were able to express.

Ann Romney gave a touching and personal speech the first night in an attempt to humanize her husband, but failed to demonstrate why Mitt Romney is better suited to run the country than President Obama. Both these candidates are devoted family men, and both are God-fearing.

Wednesday night vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan introduced himself to the country and tried to make a case for why he and Romney were the team to lead America.

Expectations were high and he met the bar. Some might argue he exceeded it.

If we are talking about rhetoric over substance perhaps that is true, but I found Ryan’s speech to be devoid of any substance. Ryan is a crafty speaker, and does a good job of creating visual examples that are easy for the unfamiliar listener to grasp.

Problem is much of what he said was blatantly untrue.

We all miss the idealistic innocence that was associated with America in days long past. Problem is Sheriff Andy Taylor and Barney Fife never had to worry about al-Qaeda terrorists attacking the pastoral surroundings of Mayberry.

Rep. Ryan (R-WI) is the poster-boy for new conservatives. He has a kind face, is attractive, and familiar. With his khaki slacks, plaid shirts, and folksy sense of humor, what’s not to like, right?

But Ryan is no innocent, and his voting record reflects that.

It was a second round of Bush tax cuts, two wars, and Bush’s Medicare Part D that were directly funded by deficit spending, and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan voted for them all. He requested bailout funds from Obama, voted for the TARP bank bailout plan, and for the auto industry bailout in 2008.

It goes on and on. Paul Ryan wants to suddenly appear to be this fiscal conservative, but in reality he is tied to the runaway spending under George W. Bush and has a lengthy voting record of being in the affirmative for government spending to solve problems.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered the keynote address Tuesday.

Again there were broad strokes of grandeur promised to the American people, but it was all bluster. It took Christie forever to even mention Romney. This was more about Christie positioning himself for a future White House run than it was about making a case for Romney.

I thought the real star of the convention was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She said her days of public service are over and only wants to focus on her students at Stanford, but Dr. Rice is an extremely electable Republican.

Her foreign policy credentials are unquestionable, and she was the only Republican speaker at the convention who truly addressed the entire country.

Her inclusion of “my fellow Americans” was powerful and genuine.

Dr. Rice spoke with authority about the country’s leadership role domestically and abroad, the currency of ideas brought by immigrants to America, and touched on the civil rights battle still being waged within our schools.

It was a remarkable speech.

In the end something about this whole convention felt one-off, like the Republicans slapped a new label on some old snake oil. Several speakers didn’t even appear to believe the lines they were delivering, including Romney.

Through the doublespeak it was apparent the Republican Party is happy to remain divisive and speak only to the upper-white middle class and the wealthy.

This is not surprising, but considering how infrequently Romney was mentioned by all speakers it shows the party isn’t satisfied with their candidate. The man is a hollow vessel that others are trying to fill and advance for their own purposes. Not because they believe in him, but because they know they will have their way if he does win.

In fact Tuesday night MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews made a brilliant comparison of how Romney looked like Prince Charles visiting New Guinea, in regard to Romney’s wooden demeanor.

During Christie’s speech he appeared to be wincing in pain, rarely applauding and looking decidedly uncomfortable. Everyone in that arena was rocking and wanting Romney to join them, to be one of them. But he refused and instead chose to remain an observer.

I appreciate the debt argument, and agree our fight is on the domestic front. We must get out spending under control, but I heard no convincing evidence that Romney is better suited to lead America – only antiquated themes and empty promises.

Case in point, there was so little substance at the Republican National Convention that the most memorable moment came from an aging Clint Eastwood speaking to an empty chair.

The top Tweeted moment from the convention came from President Obama in responding to Eastwood saying, “This chair is taken.”

These are bad trend lines for the Republican ticket. It got no bump coming out of its convention, and an empty chair is getting more traction than its candidates.

Romney has shown he is the most dangerous of politicians. He has few true convictions, the rest are fill-in the blank, susceptible to the whims of whoever will take him into office. Romney will pander to the Birthers on the far right, ignore global warming, and already has done a 180 on health care, a woman’s right to choose and gun control.

What won’t Mitt flip on?

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One Response to The Republican National Convention – Not Ready for Prime Time

  1. Robert F Langley says:

    Peter,
    Did Romney actually say that we “…would be energy dependent by 2020?” I thought we accomplished that back in the 60s.

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