TAMPA, Fla. -- If conventions are important anymore, and I'm not sure they are, they matter for what is not said more than what is said.
The strategic and factual silences show indirectly what the party, candidate and campaign regard as their vulnerabilities -- the people, issues and themes that they know will drive away what's left of the undecided vote.
As the Republican National Convention comes to a close, I'm sitting here in the hall compiling a list of the unstated:
1. "Social" issues. In 1992, a rudderless Bush One reelection campaign turned the GOP convention over to the abortion/traditional family crowd. It was a disaster. Republicans ever since have tried to tone it down, with mixed success. In Tampa, there has been barely a mention of those issues. Even Mike Huckabee toned it down -- and did not mention his good friend Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. No reference to gay marriage or traditional marriage. Nearly no mention of abortion.
2. Sarah Palin. Even Fox TV banned her for one night of the convention, a remarkable editorial coincidence.
3. Romneycare. Even though Mitt brags about it selectively on the campaign trail, his health care program in Massachusetts has not received a mention here. The reason is obvious: He's running against Obamacare, which was modeled on his own. Wouldn't be prudent.
4. The GOP's spending/budget record 2001-2008. During George W. Bush's presidency, more than $3 trillion was added to the debt. Paul Ryan voted for most of the measures that made up that total. In his speech on Wednesday, he made passing reference to the Bush spending, but not to his own role.
5. Immigration. The divisive issue is verboten here and for good reason: Romney is way behind among Hispanics, disastrously so. He is 5 percentage points behind in Florida, and Nevada and Colorado are in danger, too. I saw Sheriff Joe Arpaio on the floor the other night, but no one was giving him high fives and he was nowhere near the stage.
6. Lack of diversity. There have been plenty of persons of color at the podium, nearly as many as there are in the hall. It is, frankly, a white-on-white crowd. And the GOP, for better or worse, does not seem to mind. It's not that they don't want more diversity; they just aren't for the kind of methodical outreach that accelerates it. They think their ideas are enough. At least that's the generous interpretation.
7. War in Afghanistan. Last night I watched a stirring and, at the same time, heartbreaking color guard of amputee vets bring Old Glory on stage. That was about the only reminder of the war. Or the trillions that have been spent since 9/11.
8. Foreign policy. Except for Condi Rice's speech, and then only partially. And just one mention of Osama bin Laden, by Romney himself, for the obvious reason that President Obama got him and President Bush did not.
9. Bushes. Except for Jeb and a short video on the Georges.
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