With the close of the RNC Convention, we only have to endure one more party convention, and then the silly season is officially in full force. The silly season is where I try to pretend that Mitt wasn’t my second choice in 2008, when the other choice was McCain, who was not exactly my first choice when the field was still open. But I have to say, I’m at least starting to think that McCain was really the inferior candidate in the 2008 primary.
Perhaps because I did not start out with high expectations for Mitt Romney, he has managed to surprise me. He’s run his campaign well, whereas McCain’s campaign was a disaster . I’m not worried that Romney is going to go crazy before the election like Col. Tigh did when the financial crisis hit. I can still remember watching that sorry display and telling Bitter “Well, that’s it I think. He just lost the election.” While Sarah Palin is was a breath of fresh air compared to the top of the ticket in 2008, she does not have Paul Ryan’s depth on issues. The Romney Campaign has also hit Obama a lot harder even in this early stage of the campaign, than McCain’s people ever did. I believe that the debates this time will not be as painful to watch, and to be honest, I’d be worried if I were Obama heading into those debates. Good thing he stacked the deck with moderators.
And as for Mitt’s speech, I have to agree with Jim Geraghty on this one. From his Morning Jolt:
At times, he was scary good.
No, really, where has that Mitt Romney been all year? All campaign? Since 2007?
Every time he’s given a nice speech after a primary victory, I would usually joke on Twitter, “ah, looks like those new personality software upgrades are working out, he sounds much more natural now,” or something like that. (It’s a perennial; asÂ Erick EricksonÂ said last night, “Romney v.6.5 is pretty awesome.”)
But the Mitt Romney we saw tonight . . . it’s as if he had been saving up every bit of his inner emotional life, his soft, sentimental side, and let it all out. This was a speech that requires us to reexamine what we think we know about Romney.
Bitter and I are political junkies, who tend to follow this stuff like sports, only a sport where you kind of hate all the teams and most of the players. We listen to a lot of speeches, and most political speeches will bowl you over with a feather, assuming you aren’t sleeping through it. But even I have to admit, Romney’s speech last night was one of the best political speeches I’ve seen in a long time from the GOP.
After watching most of the convention, though sometimes not paying attention when the speech’s were boring or bad (which is honestly most of them), Mitt seems committed to running the party on a message of economic and fiscal conservatism, in other words, the things conservatives and libertarians tend to agree on. There have been about as many bones tossed to the Huckabee wing of the party as there have been to gun owners, which is to say, not many. I think Romney has made a conscious decision to downplay social issues, and if that continues during the campaign, it’ll certainly help me feel better about things, but it ups the stakes considerably. A loss on that message will be a signal to the GOP it needs to go back to the Rove strategy of ginning up the social conservative base, and talking about compassionate conservatism (i.e. big government conservatism) to the soft middle who are happy to let the government do things that make them feel good while it spends itself into bankruptcy. The fiscal problems of this country are not easy, and it’ll be difficult no matter who’s in the White House, but Romney is signaling he’s up to the job. Is he? The only thing I know for sure there is Obama definitely isn’t.