…seems to have struck the pundit community as pretty good, and less radiantly mendacious and irresponsible than Ryan’s, at least insofar as it serves his immediate political needs. I thought it was just awful, almost as embarrassing as the unspeakable preceding episode from Clint Eastwood. Eastwood’s performance was just sad, a great talent flailing about trying to do something he’s completely unqualified for and an awkward reminder of Reagan confusing himself with his roles in movies. But Romney was doing what he wants to be hired to do for a living, and boy, was he bad at it.
The first half was a treacly stream of cheap sentiment and bromides about how great America is, not a bit advanced from a Frank Capra movie or this which was pushing the boundaries of kitsch when it was written in 1946. It’s all true at one level (sometimes aspirational) or another, but so is the beauty of the sunset, and do we learn anything hearing it again, and does Romney stating a view about anything, however banal, provide any information about his convictions? Asserting the wonderfulness of your country is not patriotic or inspirational or enlightening; like most assertions, especially assertions of a widely held opinion, it’s just boring and icky. The second half pretended to tell us what Romney will do if elected, larded with some silly jingoism and anti-Obama snark, but all we really got was a bunch of objectives. I ding my students severely when they confuse goals with policies, and saying you will reduce the deficit without saying what you will actually do to get there is more eyewash.
I don’t think the speech, or the whole convention, will do Romney much more good two weeks from now than the balloons.