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11.20 pm. My instant verdict? A good night for improving Mitt’s personal image; but a sad evening for an actual reality-based critique of Obama’s record, or a coherent set of proposals for the future. He has one argument: the economy sucks and you should fire the president because of it. That’s it.

I thought Bush’s two acceptance speeches and McCain’s were much better. In a word: mediocre, and deeply dishonest as an argument. As a way to soften his awful image: B +.

11.13 pm. Now pure blather about America! Believe! Believe! More military power! More war! Now he says he wants to help the poor and the sick by throwing 30 million people out of healthcare, slashing Medicaid and lowering taxes on the wealthy.

11.12 pm. So Qaddafi was not a dictator? Now we have pure demagoguery. He thinks it’s 1964 again with Russia. No mention of Afghanistan yet. Ever?

11.10 pm. Obama is planning to raise taxes on the middle class? And how does Romney’s removal of tax loopholes raise enough revenues to balance the budget without a middle class tax increase? This is another transparent lie.

11.08 pm. Hasn’t Greece exactly been doing what Romney says he wants: cut spending? And how do you reduce the costs of healthcare by scrapping the savings in Obamacare and all the cost control pilot schemes.

11.03 pm. On the small business point: they are not the main generator of jobs though they are vital:

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11.01 pm. The price of gas has doubled under Obama? Really? An “attack” on oil and gas and coal is a lie. America is more independent in energy today than ever before. This is now getting worse. Independents will be asking themselves: how will you change that?

11 pm. No argument here. Just a simple statement that the economy sucks and therefore the president should be fired. That’s it. No details on the choice between two policies. And we are now heading past 11 pm, thanks to Clint.

10.59 pm. About risk: Romney refused to head up Bain Capital until Bain promised him he would get back his old salary and interest if he failed. He risked nothing.

10.58 pm. He’s using the Obamas to buttress his business record. He usually says he had failures and successes. No failures tonight. And one question: how, how, how has Obama attacked success? Or apologized for it? Maybe it was Invisible Obama who said that.

10.57 pm. “He believes jobs come from government.” Really? Here’s the private sector/public sector job record under Bush and Obama in their first terms:

BUSHvOBAMA_jobsREV

So that was a lie.

10.55 pm. If this convention has been about anything, it has been about trying to narrow the gender gap. It’s been almost overwhelming. The speech so far seems entirely devoted to improving Mitt’s personal image, rather than promoting any argument. And as it gathers momentum, it’s getting better, after a very rocky start. Meanwhile, the meme won’t end:

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10.50 pm. Man, I’d love to vote for Mitt Romney’s parents. That rose story – so hackneyed and yet so moving – gave me a lump in my throat.

10.46 pm. An instant meme after Eastwood’s weird digression: Invisible Obama. Off to a great start:

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10.45 pm. Does Mitt understand that what he is saying is that Americans are entitled to permanent success. And that government is there to ensure they do. But the whole night has been about why government is totally irrelevant, and only the individual matters. Again: I don’t think they even see the incoherence of their barrage of platitudes. I mean: “God Bless Neil Armstrong” in a nomination speech?

10.41 pm. This description of what people expected in the darkest moment in recent economic history is completely surreal and invented. I write about this below. It’s just bizarre to say that the free-fall of the global economy was the moment when people expected and deserved an immediate resumption of the American dream.

10.40 pm. No other country has optimism. It is uniquely American.

10.36 pm. Do you believe in America? Do you? Just asking. It appears we need reminding.

10.35 pm. Mark Shields says the last nominee to do this was Michael Dukakis.

10.35 pm. The entrance from the floor is a little odd. Is it to make him seem like a president entering for a State of the Union? Or is it designed to make him seem less aloof? It feels as if the wheels are coming off a little.

10.33 pm. Again, it seems to me that this speech is more about Rubio than Romney. The biographical arc was building, and then Eastwood gave us surrealism and Rubio gave us total blather. Romney has been lost – and he’s way late, which cannot be making him happy backstage.

10.32 pm. Rubio just ruled atheists out of being Americans. But it’s the smugness of this pathological patriotism that strikes me most. Which means it s not patriotism; it is a solypsistic nationalism.

Notice too that we have heard not a single policy proposal from the podium tonight. Not one. Just manipulative emotionalism so far.

10. 26 pm. Best Eastwood tweet:

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10.25 pm. Rubio is the un-Ryan. He’s not the attack dog. He has a great line: “Obama is a good person but a bad president.” I think that will be far more effective than the vicious attacks of the last two days. Rubio, however, has just lied. Obama has never said that people get rich by making people poor. Where has he said that? When? Or is this another invention?

10.22 pm Suderman is on a roll:

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I fear that’s the core substance of the speech. I keep seeing people standing up with the poster, “Believe!” In what? Why? Or is blind faith itself now a virtue regardless of what it is in. Ayn Rand? Jesus Christ? Bigfoot?

10.20 pm. Finally a real line: “When someone doesn’t do a job, you’ve got to let them go.” Saves the speech. But Mitt is losing time. This has got to be over time, by now, no? Maybe this has a big draw for the base. I found it deeply, inordinately strange.

10.12 pm A ringing endorsement: “possibly, maybe it’s time for someone else to solve the problem.” And the rest is dry humor. Eastwood now says Obama failed to close Gitmo – when he was stopped by the GOP! But he does mention the war in Iraq. And now he’s arguing that we should have withdrawn from Afghanistan sooner. Does he not realize that Mitt wants us to stay there indefinitely? This is highly incoherent. And increasingly embarrassing. He’s talking to an empty chair. Apparently, telling someone to go fuck themselves is a Biden move. But it was Cheney who became famous for saying that.

This has to be the weirdest speech I’ve ever heard at a convention. The thing was building and building and now … it’s an after-dinner speech by a geriatric actor, extolling the virtues of a businessman.

10.11 pm. The meme of the cheap, rich details-oriented man is a good one. Note how Mormonism – the most important influence on his life – has not been mentioned. And this theme I’ve heard in many of his speeches: strength. We must make America “strong again.” And I’m not sure what he means by that.

10 pm. Love the cheap light-bulb and the silver foil. Playing with the kids was a great shot. This could be much better than the actual speech. Of course there’s always snark:

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9.58 pm. Now the infomercial. The moving nature of his response to Ann’s MS diagnosis is somehow undercut by his intention to throw 30 million people out of the opportunity to get health insurance. But this is so far a great piece of propaganda.

9.55 pm. There’s been plenty of emotion in the past few minutes, but I fail to see what it does for Romney, except to warm up the crowd, and prep it to explode. By the way, one of my favorite snaps from the crowd today:

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It’s by Brendan Smialowski from Getty.

9.49 pm. We just heard someone extol Romney’s sterling leadership after 9/11 – in the Olympic world. And now a reference to the WTC flag in the Salt Lake Olympics. They are still wringing every last political drop out of that catastrophe. What on earth does this tell us about Mitt Romney? Zero. He should be elected president because someone was able to carry a flag in the Olympics? Don’t get it, I’m afraid.

9.48 pm. I think I have now seen more minorities on the podium tonight than I have by scanning the crowd at every opportunity. Again: this is a lie. This is not a diverse party. Of course it’s more p.r. than pure deception. But it’s a Potemkin vision.

9.46 pm. I’m sorry but this Olympics stuff isn’t doing it for me. What matters is not a ra-ra Team USA rally but an explanation of how Romney made a difference. That has not come across. they should have put the Mormons on now.

9.36 pm. If you’re interested in Romney’s speech, my take on his early released text is here. I wasn’t wowed. But maybe the whole thing will work. We’ll see.

9.34 pm. Rule of thumb: If you have to call someone “authentic”, he probably isn’t.

9.29 pm. Another minority woman for Romney. And another testimony to his personal decency and kindness and industry. I don’t doubt the sincerity or truth of this. And I had no idea he advanced women in his administration appointments, as I am now being told, with half the top jobs going to women. Again: this is news to me; and it’s positive. I’d say this is as effective a presentation as the Mormon testimonies. And then she calls him “unselfish.” With those tax returns?

9.25 pm. Another lie: that Romney led to a jobs boom in Massachusetts as governor. In fact, he started with an unemployment rate lower than the national rate and ended by matching the national rate:

The unemployment rate improved more slowly in Massachusetts (dropping from an annual average of 5.8 percent to 5 percent) than it did nationally (from 6 percent to 4.6 percent.)

9.20 pm. A word about the Mormon testimonies. They were sublime and moving and real. I see no reason to dispute Romney’s compassion for fellow Mormons in tough times – and his follow-through. Why these testimonies have not been in ads so far is beyond me. But I will note that they testified solely to acts of compassion for people in his “church”. They did not truly open up and explain Mormonism, its tenets and practices and its profound impact on the nominee.

9.10 pm. I think I’m going to simply chronicle the lies on the podium tonight. First up: the current speaker is saying that under the Obama administration, no jobs have been created. The Obamaites haven’t “created any.” Here is the truth of employment in the last four years, compared with the first four years undr Bush who did not inherit a recession at all:

BUSHvOBAMA_jobsREV

(Photo: Displays show Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.)