A convention recap
Armstrong Williams | 9/21/2012, 1:06 p.m.
The conventions are finally over. This week, Congress is back in session. One would hope that that would mean it's policy time, not politics time here in Washington. Unfortunately, that hope is just as vain as Obama's hope to lower the seas. The politicking will only intensify as we get closer to Election Day.
Neither convention was a huge success. The RNC was, like their presidential candidate, perfectly competent but uninspiring.
But at least they had competence. The Democrats had procedural chaos, inclement weather, security issues and some notably embarrassing speeches, particularly that of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
First the Democrats took God out of the platform. Then they tried to put Him back in. Half of the arena booed God three times. They rejected Cardinal Timothy Dolan's offer to pray, but let him only when it became a controversy. Democrats tried in 2004 and 2008 to appear religious because of George W. Bush's appeal among the supposedly lock-step evangelical values voters. The strategy failed in 2004 but somehow worked in 2008. They're not even trying it in 2012.
The RNC stage was an important opportunity for Mitt Romney to introduce himself directly to the average voter, unmediated by reporters. His was mostly a positive message, and he generally avoided negative attacks on the president. It was a wise strategy. We've seen this president for four years, and we know who he is. Romney, on the other hand, is still known primarily from Democratic attacks in the media and in advertisements. Romney seized the moment and looked like a president giving a State of the Union, entering the arena shaking hands up the aisle.
In contrast, what was there for Obama to say? Have we not heard it all already? He has done nothing but talk for four years as president after doing nothing but talk for four years as a senator. Therefore, of necessity, Obama had to recycle some material. Wolf Blitzer called it "a lot of stuff we've heard before." Savannah Guthrie spoke of "an excitement gap." Even Mother Jones' Kevin Drum admitted that Obama "phoned it in." When the press is skeptical of Obama, you know that he's in trouble.
The speech is a microcosm of Obama's bigger problems: He has already said everything that he can say. He has tried every strategy available to him; he has promised to cut the deficit in half; he has promised all sorts of new entitlements and payouts. Similarly, he has tried everything that he could try: He has tried a Keynesian stimulus; he has tried health care reform; he has tried Wall Street reform. He has shot all his arrows. In his defense, what was he supposed to say?
Even if, hypothetically, he made the speech of his life--a Gettysburg Address, for example--would that change anything? There are fewer Americans working than when Obama was inaugurated, and fewer than when the $800 billion Keynesian experiment was passed. Not even Bill Clinton could talk his way out of that one.