Most analysts in the national media criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech for failing to give the American people more details about what he would do as president. Others panned earlier remarks by motion picture actor and director Clint Eastwood. And the Democrats said there was “no big idea here.”
Republicans, on the other hand, who attended their national nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., gave Romney rave reviews.
Are we supposed to be surprised at any of this? Isn’t that pretty much what political life has been like in this country for the last four years? The two major political parties have been at odds during all of President Obama’s term. With a few exceptions, Congress has done nothing major since 2008.
Passage of the controversial Affordable Health Care Act, which is called Obamacare by its critics, is that one exception. However, most people in this country, including a majority in Congress, couldn’t tell you exactly what it did when they passed it. The popular features of the health care law are already in place, but the tough parts (taxes, budget cuts, etc.) won’t become effective until 2014.
Eastwood did ramble a bit, but give the 82-year-old a break. He had some good lines. Besides, Obama has his legion of Hollywood actors in his corner, and Eastwood gives some balance to the campaign’s celebrity support.
As for Romney’s speech, critics should remember that political party conventions are designed to fire up the faithful. Romney and earlier speakers achieved that goal. We learned more about Romney during the convention, and that will help undecided voters make up their minds before Nov. 6.
I wasn’t looking for too much detail. How many times have you listened intently to a president’s State of the Union address? Those updates do go into detail, and they are often quite boring and hard to follow.
The Washington Post in an editorial said Romney’s speech was “a better indictment than sales pitch.” It said Romney did a good job explaining why Obama doesn’t deserve re-election and presenting himself in human terms. However, the newspaper said he was “least persuasive” in outlining his goals for the country.
An analysis in Politico, which covers national political news, was titled, “No silver tongue, but Mitt Romney gets job done.” Jonathan Martin said Romney helped himself with swing voters in two important ways. Viewers learned a lot about his personal side and his attacks on Obama hit home.
The Associated Press said, “The whole night was orchestrated to help Romney tell his story. Speakers and videos introduced Romney as a businessman, Olympic savior and deeply religious family man. And the testimonials were intensely personal.”
Mackenzie Weinger in Politico talked about Romney’s “12 most rousing lines.” My favorite was, “In America we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for success.”
David Gergen, senior political analyst at CNN, said, “It (the speech) had a lot of heart. It needed more soul. It needed more poetry.” He added that Romney described a “Norman Rockwell America” that doesn’t represent America today.
Maybe so, and perhaps that is an elusive goal. However, that is what many Americans want to see glimpses of again. They long for the days when hard work, devotion to duty, respect for law and order, a quality education and a higher morality made for a better America and improved the lives of its citizens.
No one articulated that better than U.S. Sen. Mark Rubio of Florida, who introduced Romney. The Washington Post called Rubio a “rising star” in a story about his address to the convention.
Rubio talked about his parents coming from Cuba to the United States in the mid-1950s. He also mentioned his Cuban-born grandfather.
“The dreams he had when he was young became impossible to achieve,” Rubio said. “But there was no limit to how far I could go, because I was an American.”
Rubio talked about his father working as a bartender and his mother’s jobs as a cashier, maid and Kmart employee.
“A few years ago, during a speech, I noticed a bartender behind a portable bar at the back of the ballroom,” Rubio said. “I remembered my father who had worked so long as a banquet bartender…. He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years so one day I could stand behind a podium in front of a room.”
Of Americans, he said, “We’re special because dreams that are impossible anywhere else, come true here.”
Many of us born in the post-Depression years are living testimony to what Rubio is talking about. We were poor, but didn’t know it because so many people were just like us. Nevertheless, we worked hard, got a good education, paid our civic dues and gained a measure of success we never dreamed possible in those formative years.
I’m not sure whether either Romney or Obama can help us recapture a more promising America and a brighter future, but each man has 64 days to make his case. You can be sure voters will be tuned in after Labor Day to listen to the details and evaluate their proposals.
Jim Beam, the retired editor of the Lake Charles American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 337494-4025 or [email protected].