A reader writes:
Am I watching the same convention as everyone else? I feel like for the second night in a row the reaction in the hall is hardly enthusiastic. Except for a few genuine moments of applause, for the most part you can feel the delegates really "wanting" to be excited but they just can't seem to muster it. That large stage just swallowed Ryan up. And he's getting nailed by the blogs AND the press for the lies he told in his speech.
I have to say, going into the convention I was worried that Romney and Ryan might pull off a bounce and ride it into November. At this point, barring an amazing speech by Romney, I feel more confident than ever that the American people won't fall for this crap.
How can you base an entire convention on one out-of-context quote ("You didn't build that")? This is like a coach telling his team at halftime that their girlfriends are sleeping with the other team – a motivating but big lie.
Sounds like Ryan last night gave the nation a taste of what Wisconsin has seen for years. He's got a very extraordinary talent at seeming amiable, approachable, reasonable … even safe. People hear and see him speak and walk away thinking, "Well, he seems like a nice guy, very well-spoken and reasonable. I think he really wants to look out for everyone's best interests." And then they actually are shown his positions and either think "Holy shit, those are crazy!" or "Holy shit, why are they trying to smear this nice young man?!" It's what's won him elections here for years, because more people, bafflingly, think the second rather than first thing. And once that second "Holy shit…" statement is in their heads, there's no getting it out.
I have been very curious that no one has yet mentioned how steeped in Cold War imagery Ryan's speech was.
I keep hearing from the conservative writers how fresh and sunny it was, instead there are a lot of references in there – some veiled, some not so veiled – to an image of the left that seems stuck in 1960s tropes. Not just the central planners line – or the line about us not living in freedom! – but the "fading Obama posters" line. What this seem to be trying to evoke is the trite image of the failed college student enamored with the romance of communism, looking longingly at a Che Guevara poster.
I know it is important to pierce through the lies in Ryan's speech, but perhaps it would also be interesting to reveal the bigger framework on which those lies were placed: that since 2008 somehow the United States is not a free country, controlled by central planners, where children have been indoctrinated or deluded into buying the romance of tyranny in the captivating image of a young revolutionary called Obama. The US of Cuba if you will.
On last night's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams interviewed Jeb Bush live for a few minutes. Jeb managed to talk his way around Williams' question about the Republicans pretending his brother doesn't exist and he downplayed the criticisms of Republican "stupidity" that he leveled a while back. The one startling thing he said came when he was talking about the need to diversify the party. He aid that the GOP needs to focus on Latinos and Asian Americans because they "care about family" and ought to be receptive to Republican policies. African Americans were not mentioned. Does he believe black people don't care about family or that they just aren't worth the trouble to pursue?
There was a stanza that hit me very hard in former Secretary Rice's speech last night in Tampa:
A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham, the most segregated big city in America. Her parents can't take her to a movie theater or a restaurant. But they make her believe that even though she can't have a hamburger at the Woolworth's lunch counter, if she wants to, she can be president of the United States – and she becomes secretary of state.
Rice's resume includes an undergrad degree from the University of Denver, master's from Notre Dame, and Ph.D. from University of Denver. She now holds an academic position at top-flight Stanford University.
The point is: there is little difference in Rice's story and President Barack Obama's. Both are the ideal Republican narrative of triumphing despite considerable adversity (perhaps Obama'a even more so, being raised by grandparents and a single mother). The two figures both determined their own futures, worked hard as hell, and have changed the course of history. Yet when Obama tells his story, he's believed by many to be a foreigner with a faked birth certificate, a weak affirmative action beneficiary who can't give a speech without a teleprompter, and contemptible. When Rice tells her story she is greeted with raucous applause and old folks moved to tears.
I shook my head when I heard Rice tell her story, because despite it beauty and inspiration, Republicans don't care about stories like that unless they can use them for their own political grandstanding. I hear the stories of Barack and Condoleeza, and also the respective treatments of the military records of John McCain and John Kerry, and I vote Democrat.
Blogger reax here.