“Yesterday’s wind,” and tomorrow’s

The great thing about Paul Ryan’s speech last night is that it worked at so many levels. As I tried to show in my initial post about the speech, it worked as an indictment of Obama administration policy, as deft support for Mitt Romney, and as traditional pulling of the heartstrings.

And it worked at an additional level that I neglected to note — a portryal of Barack Obama as a fad. Ryan made this point most memorably in this line:

College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.

But he also made it poetically with this exquisite one, perhaps my favorite:

It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.

If the images of Obama have already faded; if the slogans are already tired; if the Obama moment has already passed, then what is the case for reelecting him? It can only be that the other guys are awful. But only die-hard Democratic partisans could have watched Paul Ryan last night and concluded that he is awful.

Ryan is younger than Obama, fresher than Obama, and not so very far behind Obama (the 2008 version) in the oratory department. He doesn’t need Greek columns to provide heft to his words. That’s because his words aren’t light ones such as hope and change. His words, well-used, are pillars in their own right — the pillars of our country: responsibility, opportunity, freedom.

Most polticians make these words seem tired. Ryan made them seem like today’s wind.


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