On Wednesday, the first day of true activities at the Republican National Convention, I did something I thought I could never do: I sat and actually listened to members of the Republican party express themselves.
It was arguably one of the most difficult things I've ever been asked to do. My body had a visceral reaction. I wanted to flee from my seat. But knowing that my Huffington Post Off the Bus comrades were counting on me, I manned up.
The task at hand was to track Republican messaging in real time. To sit listening attentively to "catch phrases" and "subtle inferences" was more challenging than I expected. "Political speech" can be very tricky. Politicians of all stripes are adept at using code speak and innuendo. Truly, that's nothing new. Listening for it, processing it and categorizing it is a different exercise completely.
The categories included:
Romney the Great
Obama the Terrible
Every time a speaker uttered a phrase that could be worked into one of the above groups, I had to
click the mouse. It's a lot like watching a boxing match and scoring using a stat counter. Was that a jab? Or a left hook? Some comments were obvious and easy to score. Definitely an uppercut! Other comment required a more nimble ear. That was a right cross...
The results were fascinating! Also quite telling.
It has been mentioned in the recent editorials and by commentators of progressive television that this election is more a referendum on President Obama (having a second term), rather than a raging endorsement of Mitt Romney. It would appear that the Republican party is not totally in-love with Willard Mitchell Romney. Ask a Republican, and they will debate you publicly. Privately, perhaps you'll get a different story.
Some numbers for your consideration.
Romney the Great 83
Patriotic Platitude 82
Obama the Terrible 157
Wedge Issue 88
The take-away for me? Don't be afraid to open your ears (and your mind) and listen. You have to pay attention. It's not always what it appears. Then again, it's hard to look away from those numbers (as unscientific as they may be) and not come to the conclusion that perhaps the RNC just doesn't care for President Barack Hussein Obama. Almost two to one, our stat counter bears that out.
No matter what your political leanings, be sure to listen to the words being spoken. Maybe just for fun, create your own list of categories. You can use hash marks to score the speeches yourself. But be forewarned, it's not an easy assignment. I found that out yesterday.