If Mitt Romney wanted to connect with his audience, he mostly succeeded, at least with the audience inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. He was measured in tone, not really bombastic and full of pronouncements of love about his family and what he hopes for America.
He was warmer than we normally see, but if one listened to the words carefully it was mostly a bit of a crock. I mean, he pretended to have been optimistic from the moment Obama was elected president, to embrace the "hope and change" that was part of the president-elect's theme only to face extreme disappointment that he presumed most of America shared.
Does anyone really believe that Romney was "optimistic" about Obama's plans and that he wasn't already in November 2008 beginning his strategy about how to get the nomination to defeat the president in 2012 as he has done?
Does anyone really believe a Republican presidential nominee, who conveniently brings up long-dead Democratic presidents like Truman and Kennedy, neither of whom would have been supported by him and certainly weren't by his oft-mentioned revered father George?
Does anyone believe a Republican presidential nominee, who feigns sadness about how Obama failed to deliver on what he'd promised when the Republican Party from the outset of the Obama administration fought tooth and nail to prevent him from accomplishing his goals, not even waiting for the end of the traditional one hundred day "honeymoon" granted to new administrations?
Has everyone forgotten how it took a parliamentary maneuver to get the health care bill passed, even with a large majority in the Senate and a good one in the House? In particular, because it took six months to get a super-majority in the Senate, when we had to wait to learn the outcome of the Minnesota contest and then Ted Kennedy's successor was defeated in a special election?
Has everyone forgotten how the Republican majority in the House of Representatives under Speaker John Boehner has stalled attempts at progress for the past two years, fighting our raising the debt ceiling, considered a major cause for Standard and Poor's downgrading of our rating from its revered AAA?
Romney talked about the price of gas doubling since Obama took office, forgetting that it was even higher under George W. Bush in the summer of 2008.
He made some odd contrast about Obama wanting to stop the rise of the ocean and to heal our planet, whereas he wanted to work for the betterment of "you and your family." A big applause line, but what did it mean? Did Obama make a choice between oceans and family welfare? Or did Romney just want to juxtapose meaningless comparisons?
And regarding family welfare, was it the Republican Party or Obama's party which worked to bring more families under medical coverage? And to reform the industry so that kids were covered under their parents policies until a later date, and also prevented insurance companies from turning down people with preexisting conditions?
Romney talked about his success in business and dared anyone to suggest that his methodology might have been insensitive or impractical, leading to his continued support for the lowering of taxes for richer Americans. He continued the lie his running mate Paul Ryan stated last night that Obama would cut Medicare when, in fact, the cuts go to the providers while the benefits remained the same, presumably paid for by higher taxation of the wealthy.
Ryan also lied about a GM factory closing because of Obama, whom he said promised that it would stay open during his campaign in 2008. The fact that the factory closed in the summer under George W. Bush, however, wasn't mentioned.
Even Romney's wife Ann, who looked stunning and spoke eloquently about her family life on Tuesday night, promised to limit her speech to "love," yet conveniently morphed into references to families out of work and other instances affected by the economy.
Keynote Speaker New Jersey Governor Christie, however, would have none of this "love" nonsense, insisting that "respect" was a higher virtue. In the course of his speech that "respect" was indicated to mean a sense that government programs would have to end and that people would have to learn to fend for themselves.
And dear Clint Eastwood, whom I've met and admired as a filmmaker. I mentioned my appreciation to him at an AFI Award Reception because of his gentlemanly behavior attending to my favorite actress Deborah Kerr when she was in Hollywood to receive her much deserved honorary Oscar. He was "all shucks" about it and a delight to talk to.
But the Clint Eastwood who suddenly appeared on stage in a rambling, nay make that doddering speech, was surprising, because one would think that as a renowned director he would appreciate some sort of script. The idea to talk to an empty chair on which President Obama supposedly sat and with whom he "sparred" and occasionally jabbed was absurd, because that sort of gimmick is usually used when a debate opponent fails to show up.
It was hard to watch, not the least his failure to get the facts right. He said it was okay for Obama to have opposed the war in Iraq, but joked that with his support of the war in Afghanistan he was surprised that the president hadn't checked with the Russians about their miserable failure over ten years in the 1970's and 1980's.
Except that it was George W. Bush who started the war, after the awful events in New York and Washington, D.C. in 2001. No matter to the partisan audience, but even NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Tom Brokaw made note of Clint's "rambling" speech.
Okay, it's over, Romney's nominated and if I were helping to plan the rebuttal at next week's Democratic Convention in Charlotte, I'd be wringing my hands with glee. The gloves are off and I can't wait until the debates, some of which I'll be watching as I'm traveling in Europe.
Michael Russnow's website is ramproductionsinternational.com
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