About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Romney's Speech: A Critic's Commentary

Last night, Mitt Romney accepted the hotly contested Republican nomination for president before the crowd of the party's faithful in Tampa, Florida. Neither hurricane, nor differences in policy, nor grumpy old men talking to empty chairs could throw Mitt off his course, the role he's been working his way up to for his entire adult life. Now, only Barack Obama's re-election stands in his way of taking the presidency, and despite the months of primary posturing, last night was his opening argument.
You can read the entire text of the speech here, but in the space below I've cut and pasted a few choice segments and offered some rebuttals.
Tonight I am asking you to join me to walk together to a better future. By my side, I have chosen a man with a big heart from a small town. He represents the best of America, a man who will always make us proud – my friend and America’s next Vice President, Paul Ryan.
In the days ahead, you will get to know Paul and Janna better. But last night America got to see what I saw in Paul Ryan – a strong and caring leader who is down to earth and confident in the challenge this moment demands.
But what America got to see in Ryan last night was a big fat liar. Even Fox News, which is no stranger to perpetuating right-wing falsehoods, was taken aback at just how badly Paul Ryan lied. Fox News contributor Sally Kohn even took a time out to detail the lies in Ryan's speech Wednesday Night. But hey, Ryan's still a great dad and has got an awesome playlist on his iPod...
Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us.
A bit of historical revisionism there because I remember no such coming together after the election of Barack Obama. In fact, polls constantly show that America's more divided than ever.
When that hard fought election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have – optimistic and positive and confident in the future.
That very optimism is uniquely American.
I'm sorry, but does Mitt Romney mean to imply that Americans are the only ones that get optimistic of the future.
We Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future.
Again, unlike anyone else in human history, according to Mitt, only Americans have a kinship with moving forward through time.
But today, four years from the excitement of the last election, for the first time, the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future.
It's impossible to understand how this is the exclusive fault of Barack Obama, and it certainly is no one's ambition to run for office and say, "My intention is to make conditions in this country worse for everyone: make it harder to get an education, make it harder to get healed when sick, etc. Of course, what Romney failed, and continually fails to mention, is that if you're a child of the super rich (like him), you're future's secure. Mose Americans who make up the so-called 1 per cent didn't earn their wealth, they inherited it. Like Mitt Romney.
I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.
The idea that Republicans wanted Obama to succeed must be news to this guy:

I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country, a classic baby boomer.
Except that he was the son of a wealthy businessman, governor and presidential candidate. He was able to get deferred from military service so that he could go to France and preach the word of the Book of Mormon before going to Harvard law school and founding a multi-million dollar company.
The soles of Neil Armstrong's boots on the moon made permanent impressions on OUR souls and in our national psyche. Ann and I watched those steps together on her parent's sofa. Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.
God bless Neil Armstrong.
Tonight that American flag is still there on the moon. And I don't doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong's spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.
Only Mitt Romney would have the audacity to politicize the moon landing less than a week after the death of Neil Armstrong. More than that, say that the era of American exceptionalism is alive and well despite all evidence to the contrary. And while we're at it, for there to have been an America, some fairly brave people back in the old country at one point had to decide to leave their home and build an entirely new country from scratch. I just finished Destiny of the Republic, a book about the presidency of James Garfield. One chapter dealt with Joseph Lister, the British doctor who invented antiseptic surgery, and how he was laughed out of the 1876 Exposition by the American medical establish for his suggestion that germs and bacteria can be as harmful to the patient in the operating room as the wound or injury being operated on. Strangely, more 135 years later, many Americans still laugh at hard science they don't understand.
My dad had been born in Mexico and his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution.
Notice how he didn't explain why his father was there in the first place....
Unconditional love is a gift that Ann and I have tried to pass on to our sons and now to our grandchildren. All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers. If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family – and God’s love - this world would be a far more gentle and better place.
That sounds nice, but you could read this as a swipe at non-traditional families; only if you have a mommy and a daddy can you a) be given the real gift of love, and b) know the love of God. After all, it's not like Christians are known for violence:

Mom and Dad were married 64 years. And if you wondered what their secret was, you could have asked the local florist – because every day Dad gave Mom a rose, which he put on her bedside table. That's how she found out what happened on the day my father died – she went looking for him because that morning, there was no rose.
That sounds like something from a Bronte novel, but on this, I'll take his word for it.
As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lt. Governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.
Nice save, but I think it's the other people in your party that need to come out and talk about how they're pro-woman.
I grew up in Detroit in love with cars and wanted to be a car guy, like my dad. But by the time I was out of school, I realized that I had to go out on my own, that if I stayed around Michigan in the same business, I’d never really know if I was getting a break because of my dad. I wanted to go someplace new and prove myself.
Those weren’t the easiest of days – too many long hours and weekends working, five young sons who seemed to have this need to re-enact a different world war every night.
Romney's tries to play it like he was any other American trying to build his own business from scratch, but what he doesn't realize is that life is easier with a Harvard Law degree and a father who was a CEO and Governor.
Those days were toughest on Ann, of course. She was heroic. Five boys, with our families a long way away. I had to travel a lot for my job then and I’d call and try to offer support. But every mom knows that doesn't help get the homework done or the kids out the door to school.
I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine. And I knew without question, that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine. And as America saw Tuesday night, Ann would have succeeded at anything she wanted to.
No mom's job is easy, but again the issue is that Ann Romney was lucky enough to have the choice to be a stay-at-home mom. Another way that Romney seems to want to live in a Leave it to Beaver world run by mega-corporations.
And that’s how it is in America. We look to our communities, our faiths, our families for our joy, our support, in good times and bad. It is both how we live our lives and why we live our lives. The strength and power and goodness of America has always been based on the strength and power and goodness of our communities, our families, our faiths.
That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America’s communities, large and small.
I rest my case.
It’s when we see that new business opening up downtown. It’s when we go to work in the morning and see everybody else on our block doing the same.
It’s when our son or daughter calls from college to talk about which job offer they should take….and you try not to choke up when you hear that the one they like is not far from home.
It’s that good feeling when you have more time to volunteer to coach your kid’s soccer team, or help out on school trips.
We get it, your idea of heaven is Seahaven, the fictional town/TV studio from The Truman Show.
Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.
Did anyone it that room vote for Barack Obama? I hardly think so. And there was also the fact that he had to deal with the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, a malady that took a bit longer than four years for the country to dig its way out of.
The President hasn’t disappointed you because he wanted to. The President has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.
Here we go. Yes, Obama didn't get into business, he became a community organizer. All those years he could have been making money we dumped into helping the helpless. There's no profit in helping people for free. Loser.
That business we started with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story.
Not such a great American success story if you worked somewhere shuttered by Bain.
[T]he centerpiece of the President’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success. Is it any wonder that someone who attacks success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression? In America, we celebrate success, we don't apologize for it.
This a frequent refrain during the convention. On Tuesday, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte told delegates that Obama wanted to punish success and tax small businesses, also known as the "Joe the Plumber" school of political thought.
That’s what this President doesn’t seem to understand. Business and growing jobs is about taking risk, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always striving.
Strange then that whenever the President takes a risk - like Obamacare, or bailing out the auto industry - he gets shouted down by the opposition party.
It’s the genius of the American free enterprise system – to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today's.
Again, coming from someone who inherited prosperity, talking to many others who also inherited their prosperity.
That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: "you are better off today than you were four years ago."
Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.
Of course, Jimmy Carter put in solar panels, which were swiftly taken out by Ronald Reagan when he entered the White House and replaced them with a bowling alley. It's strange how the Republican/Romney love for innovation doesn't extend to alternative energy. As for being better off four years ago, the very precipice of the financial crisis when job loss was at 750,000 a month and banks were closing everywhere and nobody knew if there was even going to be a tomorrow, yeah, I'd say we're better off. Thank you.
In the richest country in the history of the world, this Obama economy has crushed the middle class. Family income has fallen by $4,000, but health insurance premiums are higher, food prices are higher, utility bills are higher, and gasoline prices have doubled. Today more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before. Nearly one out of six Americans is living in poverty. Look around you. These are not strangers. These are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans.
"Some of them put out of work by me." Kidding aside though, food prices are high because of persistently horrible weather conditions (more on that later), and Obama hasn't exactly hammered down on oil drilling. Besides, speculation drives gases prices more than supply. It's also nice that Romney at least gave poverty some lip service in his speech.
His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today's seniors, and depress innovation – and jobs – in medicine.
Of course that's the same $716 billion that Romney's running mate wants to cut, but why split hairs?
And unlike the President, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. It has 5 steps.
Wow. For the record that's 250,000 jobs per month. Even Bill Clinton, who oversaw one of the biggest economic booms in the history of the United States, only created 230,000 jobs per month when averaged out over eight years. How is Romney going to do it?
First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.
I wonder which of those will get priority.
Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.
Sadly for Mitt, his running mate wants to cut $115 million from the Department of Education, the elimination of Head Start affecting over 2 million children, and the cutting of Pell Grants cost 9 million students their college education.
Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.
Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.
And fifth, we will champion SMALL businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Which, remember, in Massachusetts is known as Romneycare.
And let me make this very clear – unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class.
Which hasn't happened.
As president, I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America's first liberty: the freedom of religion.
Which is not in danger.
President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise...is to help you and your family.
Because you don't live on this planet, right? Oh wait...
It's interesting that Romney makes fun of Obama for trying to help the environment, but blames him for rising food prices, which are affected by the changes happening in the environment. But I've all but given up on factual consistency when it comes to the Republicans.
Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order, and Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden. But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran's nuclear threat.
Here we go...
President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro's Cuba.
I don't know if Romney knows this, but it's unlikely that the Soviets are going to try and sneak missiles into Cuba again. And when, exactly, did Obama throw Israel under the bus?
At this point Romney started to wrap it up with a mixture of flag waving and old fashioned preachiness, but honestly, how thick do nearly half of the Americans have to be to throw their support behind a guy who's plans don't have plans. It's the same rhetoric that Republicans have been using for 10 years, and if it didn't work for the last 10, as evidenced by George W. Bush - who was not mentioned even once during the convention, what makes them think it's going to work for the next 10? 
The answer is that they shouldn't it, but they probably will anyway no matter how unsure some people still are about Romney.


geckoberyl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
geckoberyl said...

Nicely and fairly written as always, Adam.