I generally agree with Scott that Romney’s speech could have been a lot stronger, and still had the same personal structure and done what he wanted to do with it. Who are his chief speechwriters, I wonder? Is it the same crew (McConnell and Scully) that did Paul Ryan’s speech? Of course, much of Ryan’s speech is harmonious with, and drawn from, Ryan’s many previous speeches, which adapted easily for the rhetorical requirements of the national convention stage. So it was easier to do for both the writers and for Ryan. Romney’s speech could have, but didn’t, solve a long-standing Romney problem: what does he believe? He’s still never given the equivalent of Reagan’s “Speech” (usually rendered ‘The Speech”—always capitalized) that lets us know what this guy is all about.
There was, however, one important turn of phrase that crystalizes the essential difference between Left and Right—between Obama and himself—that should give confidence that, if elected, Romney will be a decent president. And it could provide the razor that cuts Obama down to size in the fall campaign. It was this:
President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise . . . is to help you and your family.
This line obviously scored by the Left’s reaction to it. The clot on Chris Matthews’ leg grew bigger still as he complained that Romney was making light of climate change, and other greenies have expressed similar outrage. But the contrast set up in this line is not about climate change per se—it’s about the grandiosity of liberalism today, whose overweening pretentiousness has seldom found better expression than Obama (though Walter Mondale professing himself a candidate of “the sad” in 1984 comes close, as George Will reminded us the other day).
Liberalism today is all about solving cosmic issues like global warming and “social justice”—which is why liberals like large, heavily politicized, programmatic “solutions” for everything. As has been often said, liberals love The People, but don’t like real people, as shown by the fact, detailed in yet another recent study, that liberals give pitifully little to charity compared with conservatives. A liberal’s idea of charity is taking your money and funding a government program it. Actually helping an individual in need–well yuck, that the government’s job don’t you know.
No wonder the Democratic Party has largely lost the working class vote; when real people hear Obama talk, King Canute-like, about halting the rise of the oceans and healing the planet, they get it that he doesn’t actually care much about them and their practical problems much at all. All the talk about creating new “green jobs” won’t cut it; ordinary citizens know better, even without the example of Solyndra. This doesn’t make the working class an automatic vote for Republicans, who have largely lost their voice on economic growth the last few years and strangely haven’t done a very good job of getting it back. But Romney has laid down a strong marker for thumping Obama if he can build on this point.