Friday, August 31, 2012

My Thoughts On The GOP Convention

Image by Win McNamee / Getty Images

In business Mitt Romney has a reputation for competence. His calling card is being able to assemble to best team to tackle problems, perform tasks. Apparently, the tasks do not include selecting a team to produce a successful convention.

I really can't remember a more ineffective GOP convention than the one that ended last night. Overall, the convention came off as repetitive ("You Built That"), defensive (constantly asserting that the GOP values women) and moments that were just downright bizarre (Clint Eastwood).

Since the nominee of the party is decided long before the primary season is over, conventions in the modern era are nothing more than a chance for the party to come together and send off their nominee into the general election. With that purpose in mind, the focus of conventions should be about building up the nominee, take the opposition down and making the case for why the party's candidate is the best man or woman (yes, I keep hoping a woman will be nominated) to be president.

For the most part, the speakers at the convention seemed more interested in promoting themselves than Mitt Romney. That was certainly true of Chris Christie who spent the majority of the time bragging about his accomplishments in New Jersey. Only towards the end of his speech he threw in a couple of unconvincing lines about supporting Romney because he will make America better.

Very different from previous key note speeches like that of Zell Miller that shred John Kerry over military spending and delivered the memorable line about our soldiers fighting with "spitballs". Or Joe Lieberman who made a solid case for the McCain-Palin ticket and gently pointed out that the then Senator Obama had potential but wasn't ready to lead.

Despite Ann Romney's declarations of love for that boy she met at a high school dance, she was not particularly effective in humanizing Mitt. It wasn't until Thursday night and the speech by Pam Finlayson that a picture of a caring Romney came through. And Mitt helped himself a great deal talking about his parents and his kids.

Overall the staging was not very well executed. Something was happening with the teleprompter that made virtually every speaker come off as hesitant and robotic. Even Newt Gingrich! Having Romney glad hand his way to the podium just slowed down the momentum built up by Marco Rubio's superb speech. And the decision to have Clint Eastwood speak to an empty chair was truly a man made disaster.

It will be interesting to see the polling in the next few days. This morning the Romney-Ryan ticket boarded the "Believe In America" plane and they are off to the general election. The Democrats are up next. Not sure what their theme will be. But I am sure no one will be talking to an empty chair.