How did Mitt Romney do last night? The truth is we won't know until the polls start coming in over the next 48 hours. Romney desperately needed a bump from his convention. He had three straight days to deliver an unfiltered message to the American people, culminating in an hour of prime-time to make his case personally. I've learned that what I think, certainly, is much less important than what Mr. and Ms. TP think — the tracking polls, that is. They will soon give us the definitive verdict.
But uncertainty should never get in the way of an opinion. For me, Romney fell short last night. In fairness, he had a lot of doubts to quell; he is viewed as a flawed and weak candidate — especially among Republican insiders. He had to "emote," "connect," "dimensionalize" and "close." Given the pressure he was under and all the voices in his head giving him impossible advice, it's a wonder his performance didn't resemble Clint Eastwood's improv. (By the way, I loved Clint talking to the chair — it was THE most bizarre moment in convention history.)
Here's what I didn't like about the speech. First, Romney's snarky and dishonest riff on how Obama wanted to "heal the planet" and how he [Romney] just wants to help our families. I get the point he's making — Obama has his head in the stars, and Romney's feet are planted in the practical work of helping our nation — but somehow the irony of the tropical storm that shortened his convention eluded Romney. In recent years, we have seen the devastating and increasing impact of global warming on our weather systems. And we got another dose this week — 25 inches of rain in Louisiana. Sometimes healing the planet and helping our families aren't as far apart as Romney's ignorant and dishonest riff made them sound. And, after all, this from a man who once believed in global warming and its impacts.
Also dishonest was Romney's whole riff on how he really wanted President Obama to succeed four years ago. Here is part of that section of the speech: "Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than divides us.
When that hard-fought election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have — optimistic and positive and confident in the future. This was the hope and change America voted for.
I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something."
Let's assume Mitt Romney really did want Barack Obama to succeed, did congressional Republicans? Unanimous opposition to the president from the moment John Roberts had a Freudian slip and flubbed administering the oath of office. The "division" of which Romney speaks? Where does he think that originated?
And were Americans really "confident" in the future in 2009? Our financial system was still on the verge of collapse, and our economy was on the brink of depression. Barack Obama pulled us out of that dive in the face of active opposition from the Republicans.
My point here is not that Obama has been a great president, it's that nothing in Romney's speech gives me any confidence that he will be either. He is running a campaign that is dishonest about our history and devoid of promise for our future. To me, Tampa was not a game-changer.