“A bundle of wasted opportunities”

That’s what my friend Bill Otis calls Romney’s speech:

I thought Romney’s speech was a bundle of wasted opportunities. If the idea was to introduce “Romney the good family man,” to soften his image as a rapacious Bain capitalist, the idea was all wrong and poorly executed to boot.

It was wrong first because it buys into the Democratic idea that the country wants and needs a President “who understands the problems of ordinary people.” Isn’t our central theme this year that what the country actually needs is a return to self-reliance, and that looking to the government to (further) build a culture of dependency is all wrong? Yes, there’s a limit on how much the Republicans can sell that idea at 100 proof and still win, but having the first 20 minutes of the candidate’s acceptance speech consist of “I love my family and they love me” is a complete cave-in, not to mention pretty darn boring (I wonder how many people stayed tuned in for the second 20 minutes). If we cannot win by being too direct or too adult, we are even more certain to lose by wallowing in the sentiment-laden mush that is the Democrats’ petri dish. The country doesn’t want a “family man” like John Edwards, but, short of that, it would have been a far better use of the time to explain to the electorate, not merely why Obama’s gargantuan welfare state is unaffordable, but why it’s inconsistent with a free people, our national creed and Constitutional government even if we had the money for it.

The second thing wrong with the speech was its execution. If we absolutely must have this sentimental goo, the person to deliver it is not the candidate. It’s like a speech insisting that, “I do too have a sense of humor.” It’s impossible by definition to have a person establish how genuine and good-hearted he is by HIS OWN DECLARATION about how generous and good-hearted he is. Why, instead of the self-congratulation, didn’t Romney’s people find some workers at companies Bain Capital restored talk about how Romney had saved their jobs? [note: earlier in the evening, executives of such companies were used, but little use was made of workers] That would have established the main sort of virtue Republicans should be interested in displaying better than what we saw. It also would have been to the point the convention otherwise was often quite good at making: What creates jobs, growth and wealth is not government and not the Big Nanny, but capitalism.

As things stand, we would have been better off stopping the convention when the gavel came down Wednesday night.

I share Bill’s sentiment, and Bill has usually been right about these matters in the 40 years we’ve been friends. But we have to win this election with the electorate we have. After months of being battered as a person, Romney probably needed to soften his image, and to do it himself.

At this convention, Paul Ryan provided the hard talk; Mitt Romney provided the soft talk. I hope that viewers who saw both — be they conservative or moderates — will find what they are looking for this in ticket.


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