A few thoughts on Romney’s speech:
(1) I am glad that he said he was “humbled” by the nomination. It is a lie, of course, just as it will be a lie when President Obama says it next week, but it is the one lie politicians should — must! — keep telling. Perhaps, if they say it often enough, one day it will be true. But even when not true, it is an important concession to the authority of virtue, and places a subtle constraint on executive power.
(2) The man has a dishonest mien. I’m told by many respectable people that Mr. Romney does, in fact, believe what he is saying, and just can’t get past RomneyBot 3000. Now, I happen to think most of those respectable authorities are themselves dishonest hacks, and Mr. Romney’s record on honesty speaks for itself. But it will be the robotic demeanor, not the record, that costs him the election.
(3) RoboMitt fell away and was replaced by a real human being twice, and I think those two occasions tell us a tremendous amount about Mr. Romney as a person. The first was his discussion of the free enterprise system, starting with his work at Bain and culminating in, “…creating tomorrow’s prosperity, not trying to redistribute today’s.” Sure, he’s still reading off the prompter, but his whole affect changes. Then he goes to talking points about why Obama hasn’t left us better off, and RoboMitt is back.
(4) The other human-Mitt-face moment was when he spoke about his family. I have no idea how that marriage works, but I do think he thinks it’s a lot more important (and believes in it a lot more) than he does in, say, consistency, principles, and integrity in his public life. I suppose if one has to choose one area of one’s life in which to to be unprincipled, it should be the public life, not the private, so one cheer for him… but I’m not sure I want such a person serving as President.
(5) It’s more than a dishonest face, actually. He weaves a very careful narrative at the outset about America after the 2008 election. It is very plausible, very useful, very much something Americans would like to believe about themselves… and very subtly not at all true.
(6) Good policy on the back end. Calling for “North American” energy independence (rather than U.S. energy independence) was smart, because that goal is actually achievable; the U.S. could be an energy exporter in ten years with help from fracking, but, if not, oil from the Alberta tar sands can more than make up the difference.
(7) Romney promised to *cut* government spending in one sentence, promising that this will *create* new jobs… and then immediately promised to *preserve* government spending (on the military) because cutting *that* spending would *destroy* jobs. This is something only an establishment Republican would say — and something only an illiterate would applaud. (SIGNIFICANT GLANCE AT RNC)
(8) Hooray! The mass murder of the unborn got three words! I will now get a deluge of email reminding me that a vote for Romney is a vote for life (unless you made the mistake of being conceived by an act of rape or incest, in which case, in Mr. Romney’s view, your life forfeits its sanctity).
(9) Glad he mentioned Poland. People forget Poland, but it remains a very important spot on the foreign policy map, an incredible post-communist success story, and one of America’s best allies. People made fun of George W. when he told John Kerry he forgot Poland. They should not have.
(9) “[The] future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it. Our nation depends on it. The peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it.” Just words, here, and from this man — but good words, and true. To borrow from David Marcus, that’s where ideas begin.