I watched some of the Republican convention last night.
I'll try to keep the tone of this blog respectful, but Jesus.
Any party's convention is going to be, by definition, triumphalist and one-sided. The immediate point of the convention is to fire up the delegates, the foot soldiers who will go back home and actually work to turn out the vote. If they're not passionate, that's one less lawn sign, three fewer phone calls, five hundred bucks that doesn't go to the campaign.
The second, and at this stage, less important goal is to influence the persuadables out there, those few hundreds of thousands of voters who could go either way. They're probably not watching the convention,but the highlights will get filtered down to them through the media and every little bit helps.
So, I'm taking all of this with a fistful of salt, but still.
It started with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Minority Leader of the Senate. McConnell is the great legislator and statesman who said, on the record, that his highest priority was making Barack Obama a one-term President.
Way to govern, Mitch.
McConnell started out by praising someone named "Mitt Ryan". I don't know who this is, must be some last-minute replacement for Romney, some back-room Tampa deal. And then he kept talking, raising the question:
How on God's green earth did Mitch McConnell ever get elected to anything, let alone the United States Senate? He is the most phlegmatic, wooden speaker I've seen televised nationally in years. Biff from the old Letterman show is Robert Preston in the Music Man compared to the good Senator.
And speaking of old TV shows, was that the old SNL guitarist accompanying Jack Blades? And why didn't they turn Jack's microphone on? Kind of a shame, him being the singer and all.
McConnell stumbles off and Rand Paul strides on. Ah, Rand. You got to give some grudging respect to a grown man who defies any comb or hairbrush. Apparently, hair grooming of any kind is unconstitutional, clause 8, paragraph 41, you can look it up. Right around the part that decrees African-Americans to be equal to three-fifths of European Americans.
That's one infallible document, huh?
Rand started out with a history lesson, which is always a great way of making an audience think you're smarter than they are and therefore your ideas make sense even if they don't make any sense. The Newton Leroy Gingrich gambit, I think it's called. Very effective. You could feel the crowd getting into it, finally. They love it when the Pauls lay in to that serious, straight-up Ayn Rand shtick, just thundering out that simplistic, selfish, short-sighted message.
McConnell and Rand both took some good, measured whacks at the President, which raised the second question of the night:
How do the Republican strategists, with straight faces and presumably able to sleep through the night, continue to try to characterize Barack Hussein Obama as a member of the elite? Because he went to Harvard? So did Romney. George W. Bush went to Yale. Come on.
The President grew up as a black guy with a single white mother. In America. Odds, actual odds, friends, are that he ends up in prison, not in college and certainly not in the White House. You can disagree with his policies and his philosophy, you can just not like the guy, that's fine, but don't insult the collective intelligence of the voters or dismiss the extraordinary effort and discipline of the man. His road was not easy. Respect that.
Then Rand just flat-out lied, setting the bar nice and low for Ryan's speech later. The word from the back room is clearly:
"Hammer away on the "You didn't build that" line. Just keep saying that, with scorn and a slow head shake on the profound arrogance and ignorance of a person who would dare say that to an American business person. Just keep saying that, we'll figure out something else in September."
So Rand said, simply and concisely, that businesses build roads.
That would be, untrue, Senator. Flatly, simply, obviously untrue. I've never driven the Staples superhighway and I've seen a lot of road in this country. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican president, built the interstate highway system.
Look it up, Rand.
And then Condoleeza Rice walks out. I've already said what I think of this woman.
The coldest, smartest mercenary I've ever seen. Enough said.
And then the highlight of the night, Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Davis Ryan, possibly related to Mitt Ryan, don't know. And now you could really feel the crowd tuning in and breathing easier. Like a dead party when someone finally says, "Hey, you guys want a drink?" Ryan damn near burned the place down. Mostly because his pants were on fire,I guess.
I mean, he lit his pants on fire and then kept pouring on the kerosene.
Again, I'm trying to be respectful and all, but holy Jesus on the cross eating corn chips.
He certainly proved he belongs with the Big Boys, I'll give him that. One of the unfortunate and corrosive skills you have to possess to run for national office these days is the ability to lie with great passion and sincerity. Ryan excelled.
A couple of places where the Congressman strayed from what some of us would call the facts:
- The GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin that Ryan claimed the President promised to keep open closed in December of 2008. Yeah. Hard to pin that on a guy who wasn't sworn in yet. Janesville happens to be Ryan's hometown, by the way. So, he knows when it closed.
- This one is more of a lie of omission, I guess. The bi-partisan debt panel that Ryan claims the President ignored? Ryan was on the panel and voted against it's recommendations. Come on.
--Of course the stimulus created jobs. Millions of them. Not enough, and I've written before, the problem with the stimulus is it wasn't big enough, mostly because of political calculation and cowardice on the part of the President and his team. But to claim it had no effect is just silly.
-And then the bald-faced, brazen bit about Medicare. Read Ryan's budget, the reason he was standing there last night, the only reason any of us outside of Wisconsin know his name. It's not the Democrats that are going after Medicare, folks.
Ah. Sorry. A little partisan venting.
Again, I know the game. I've been watching it for awhile now.
But when they demonstrate so blatantly that they think we are so, so stupid, it just gets me all kind of bitey and snarly.
If you think your points, your policies and your vision are better than the other guy's, then just make the argument, for god's sake. Don't just stand there and lie.