"I'm not gonna shut up -- it's my turn. We’re … we're gonna have to have a little chat about that ... what? What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. He can't even do that to himself! You're crazy! You're absolutely crazy! You're getting as bad as Biden!" --Clint Eastwood.
How epic was Thursday night?
I came into the night prepared to cheer. I never expected to stand and applaud (and laugh) for nearly fifteen straight minutes as Clint Eastwood unloaded on an empty chair. Yes, at times it was a "whoa, crazy guy at the podium!" ramble ... but so what? God forbid these things be fun!
And more to the point -- if you're as thoroughly disgusted by this President as I am, who wouldn't jump at the chance to point out Mr. Obama's failed programs, broken promises, dumb ideas, and thug-style politics? It was awesome.
And yet, as much as I enjoyed Clint's discussion with the chair, as much as I liked Romney's acceptance speech*, even as much as I loved Marco Rubio's real debut on the national scene? As awesome as it was to see Mike Eruzione, my first sports hero, endorse the candidate I am fully behind? None of those moments were my favorite moment of the night.
(*: I loved, I freaking LOVED, his entrance. Just like the Sergeant at Arms in the House introducing a President for the State of the Union or some other address to Congress. The subtle kicks to the balls the Republicans dropped on Obama, were even more fun than the full on HHH Memorial Sledge Hammer shots they landed.)
My favorite moment was when a woman named Pam Finlanson took the podium a little bit into hour two. If you didn't hear her speak, you need to. She was a member of the Romney's church, and in the mid 1980s, gave birth three months premature to a baby girl, Katie. Every day while her daughter was in the hospital, Mitt and Ann Romney visited. Every day. Every day, Mitt Romney would pray over the little girl. And then, a couple months later, after they'd taken their daughter home, Thanksgiving arrived, and they honestly didn't have money for a proper holiday. Unasked, unprodded, out of nowhere, there was a knock on the door. It was the Romney's, armed with a full Thanksgiving meal for a family that couldn't afford it.
Now that is cool.
Except that story wasn't the one that got to me.
She also told about the first time she remembered meeting Mr. Romney. She and her family were new to Boston, and had visited his church the day before. She answered a knock on her door the next day, and it was Mr. Romney, thanking her for giving his church a try, and to see what her impressions were, as well as to welcome her to the community.
While this was going on, laundry was laying all over the house, trying to dry out, because the dryer wasn’t working. As Pam began to fold the laundry, almost out of embarrassment at how messy the house looked, Mr. Romney stood up, unprompted, and began folding clothes with her as they talked.
That’s pretty cool too.
But that ain’t the story that got to me.
Her last one, is the one that did get to me. And not as in "aw, that's neat", but as in I was crying right along with Pam as she finished up. And if you catch the scan of the delegates, you'll see there isn't a dry eye in the house.
Pam and her family moved to California a while ago, and as time went along and things change and distance kicks in, her family lost touch with the Romney's. It happens. Then last year, "after 26 years of miracles", their daughter Katie that was born prematurely, passed away.
This wasn't a national story. Nobody outside of a few people in the community would have known about her son's passing.
Care to guess who took time out of launching his campaign for President, to comfort a friend in her greatest moment of crisis?
Yeah. Mitt Romney.
Pam and her family didn't "reach out" to Mitt and Ann Romney -- the Romney's reached out to her. Out of nowhere.
Wow. I think I can say, I pray I have at least one friend who gets the meaning of the word like the Romney's do.
Contrast that attitude, that humility, that kindness and love for a friend at her lowest, most broken moments ... to President Obama, who cares so much for his own brother, that said brother had to reach out to a journalist for $1,000 last month for a medical emergency. When said journalist asked the President's brother why he didn't call his brother, the response was "why bother, he won't take my call". To President Obama, who has so much compassion and mercy for the most helpless among us, that he voted not one, not twice, not three times, but four separate times to allow infanticide in Illinois.
Mitt Romney walks away from his campaign for President for a day, to simply grieve with a friend. President Obama won't even take a phone call from his own brother.
Which one do YOU want leading this country?
I know which one I do. And it ain't Barack Hussein Obama.
OK, a few final thoughts before moving on to Charlotte and the lunacy of the DNC next week …
* Here's why I thought the Eastwood speech was so effective -- because for the first time I can recall, someone who commands respect from everyone unloaded on Barack Obama's failed Presidency. It wouldn't have worked coming from a politician, because that is what you would expect a Republican political person to do. It wouldn't have worked if another Joe the Plumber questioned the President, because he's a nobody.
But Clint Eastwood? When he speaks, people tend to pay attention. And so for fifteen straight minutes, as he "talked" to a chair, the nation paid attention, as the failures of this administration were laid out and thrown at the "President"'s face.
Eastwood hammered him on unemployment, hammered him on broken promises, hammered him on Gitmo, hammered him on attempting to try terrorists in the heart of Manhattan, rather than on a military base, trashed him for his handling of Afghanistan, bashed him for laying out the withdrawal date -- "Mr. Romney asked a sensible question, why lay out a date, why not just bring them home tomorrow morning?", mocked the President's inability to accept criticism or blame, got in a couple good jabs at Vice President Biden -- "We all know Biden is the intellect of the Democrat Party. Just a grin with a body behind it", pointed out the President's lack of a basic understanding of business, lampooned him for his constant traveling, pointed out the hypocrisy of being "an ecological man", yet driving gas-guzzling SUV's everywhere, pointed out that noone is above the voting public, and channeled Al Gore from twenty years ago in New York:
"When somebody doesn't do the job? We've gotta let 'em go. Let 'em go!"
"What I'm saying is that we don't have to be mental masochists and vote for someone we don't want in office just because he seems like a nice guy."
And the perfect close -- he dared the President to rebut him, by dropping his most famous catchline: "Go ahead -- make my day!"
I loved every second of it.
* Also, something you don't pick up on the first time you watch it, but after about 50 viewings, you notice THE "piece de resistance".
Have you seen it? It's cool, if you wanna rewatch the speech and try to spot it, I can wait.
And ... time.
The chair? Had a teleprompter. I'm telling you, whoever came up with this, needs to immediately be inducted into the comedy hall of fame. The chair had a teleprompter! Like I noted a page ago, the subtle "eff you Barry" moments in this Convention, were even better than the no-doubt-about-it "screw you Soetero" moments.
* Before moving on, can we address the elephant in the room? We can? Great.
And said elephant is this: how in the hell are the Democrats going to even come CLOSE to these three days, let alone top it?
Everything said on that stage the last three days was heartfelt, genuine. It came from the heart, from the soul, from the conviction of the various speakers and presenters.
If the Democrats put out on stage what their core beliefs and values are?
Look it, I'm more left wing on social issues than I probably should be, but NOBODY in this country wants to spend three straight nights watching the head of Planned Parenthood and the head of NARAL verbally fellate the beauty and joy of abortion. Nobody wants to see Barney Frank praising the embrace of gay marriage. Nobody wants to see a law school student screaming at the top of her lungs to "pay for my birth control!" Nobody wants to watch Nancy Pelosi or "Dingy" Harry Reid speak about how awesome the Affordable Care Act is, and how they used nothing but above-the-board, legitimate means to get it through the Congress. Nobody wants to see the Reverend Jackson race-bait the masses, Al Gore go off about global warming, or hear Tuesday's keynote speaker, Elizabeth Warren, throw progress and success under the proverbial bus by telling us that only government can build something right.
Most of all, I'll tell you the main thing nobody wants to hear -- a bunch of self-righteous liberals call Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and conservative folks every foul, vile, inhuman word in the book, all because if the Democrats stand in defense of the last four years, they'll lose in a "46 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam" electoral landslide in 67 days.
And in that, lies the true beauty of what the Republicans pulled off this week. It's not that they pulled off a convention in which every gamble worked (more on that in a second), or that the convention got "stronger" every day, or even that it was honestly such a proud defense of the conversative agenda that even I admired it. The beauty of what the Republicans pulled off this week, is that it was 100% genuine. It was 100% about the issues. There was no name calling, no accusations of killing a man's wife -- hell, Governor Romney even said Thursday night that "all of us wish Barack Obama had succeeded, because then our country would have been a success".
The contrast from what we saw this week, versus what we're going to endure next week, will be amazing to watch unfold. I entered these conventions thinking Romney would win. After this week? Knowing what is in store next week? I KNOW Romney is going to win.
* Every Gamble Worked.
I thought the Republicans took five huge gambles this week, each one bigger than the next ... and every single one of them paid off.
First, they muted Chris Christie. When Christie didn't unload on the Obama years, I figured it was because they were waiting until later to do it. And I was right, as on night two, Paul Ryan absolutely tore the Obama record to shreds.
Second, muting Christie was brilliant, not only because it allowed Paul Ryan to be the attack dog (and look good doing it), it prevented ANY "did Mitt pick the wrong guy" talk from surfacing. When Christie took the podium Tuesday night, I at least had doubts in my mind if Paul Ryan was the best choice. By the time Ryan had finished verbally destroying the disgrace that is the Obama years, I not only had no doubts Ryan was the best choice – I had no doubt he was the ONLY choice.
Third, Ann Romney. Let’s be honest – giving the nominee’s wife a prime time speaking spot is a somewhat new phenomenon that began with the first Bush, but really took off with Hillary. When you have someone like Barbara Bush, like Hillary Clinton? The gamble can work. When you have someone like Michelle Obama or Laura Bush? The gamble doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t necessarily help. When you trot out a Tipper Gore or (hang on, I need to bash my head into a cinder block real quick over this one) Teresa Heinz-Kerry? It not only hurts you, it directly impacts an election.
Ann Romney? I don’t think her speech was anywhere near Mrs. Clinton in 1992 (or 2008 for that matter) … but she certainly didn’t HURT Mitt at all. And that’s a good thing.
Fourth, Clint Eastwood. I’m sorry – that was the damned funniest thing I’m going to see all year. And here’s how you know it worked – not even two hours after the RNC was over, the White House Twitter account had sent out a picture of Obama sitting in a chair saying “this seat is taken”. To put it simply: you don’t respond to an attack that doesn’t hit its target.
And fifth, and I thought this was THE huge gamble – was the decision to not attack the President as a person, but as an executive. It’s a gamble, in that let’s face it, entering this week, Mitt Romney hadn’t exactly sealed the deal with the conservative base. Hell, Rush Limbaugh spent two days opening this week ripping the RNC committee for being soft on Obama.
By day three? You saw what the plan was, and I gotta admit, it’s brilliant. Because they’re setting the Democrats up for a massive trap next week. When – not if, when – when the Dems begin to unleash heinous, vile personal attacks the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since the 1860s, you can already see the TV ads now.
Romney: “the President is a good, decent, honorable man, a devoted father and husband, a role model for any man looking to do right by his family.”
Obama: “Mr. Romney killed Mr. Soptic’s wife by taking away his job, his insurance, and causing her to contract cancer! Mr. Romney put the family dog on the roof while they were on vacation!”
Tagline: “Why can’t Mr. Obama run the type of clean, positive, no-dirty-tricks campaign he pledged to run earlier this year?”
(Then cue the Obama clip of him pledging to keep the campaign “out of the gutter”.)
And you close with “I’m Mitt Romney, and I approved this message, because this campaign should be about the issues, not dirty Chicago style attack points.”
66 days to go. The end of this insanity is in sight. And those eight words, are the single best thing to come out of this convention -- they didn't f*ck up ...