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Tonight, Tonight…won’t be just any night.

We are mere hours away from Governor Mitt Romney taking the stage at the Republican National Convention to, finally, accept their nomination for President of the United States.  Regardless of your political stripes, it is sure to be a memorable and exciting moment.  Think about it for a minute.  This is a man who has a dream of being President.  Worked hard, did well and, when his time came, poured himself into a campaign.  It was a divisive, ugly and combative primary that Romney emerged from.  Yet, tonight, there won’t be a revolution led by one of the losing candidates.  There won’t be accusations of cheating or threats of violence against those who supported him.  Rather, his party will, together, celebrate the primary season that was and listen to the new leader of the party.  It’s a special moment and I congratulate Romney on making it to this point.

Leading up to tonight, we had two packed days of convention activities that are worth reflecting on.  The blog is called sportypolitics, so let’s do this winner/loser style.

WINNERS:

  • Ann Romney

Ann Romney has been called her husband’s secret weapon on the trail and, on Tuesday night, she proved why.  Her primary job as a speaker was to humanize her husband and introduce the country to who he really is.   She did that swimmingly, but didn’t stop there.  Her speech was also an effective political one, in which she attacked the Obama Administration for their failures, but did it in such a way that built her husband up.   In addition, in a departure from many other speakers, she didn’t use lies to make her point – instead she grounded her ideas and key messages in facts and her own personal experiences.  The more we see her on the trail, the better it will be for her husband’s prospects in November.

  • Social Conservatives

From Rick Santorum getting a prime-time speaking slot, to the official party platform, social conservatives could not possibly be happier with what they got from the RNC this year.  It remains to be seen if these issues (abortion, gay marriage etc…) will play a large role in the election but, for now, it’s clear the power that this group has in the party.

  • The 2016 or 2020 Republican Candidates for President

I can’t remember a convention where so many of the speakers seemed, so clearly, to be setting themselves up for their own future run.  As weak a field as the Republicans had this time around, if Romney is unable to prevail, the 2016 field will be one of the strongest we have ever seen.  Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Susan Martinez and Pam Bondi all delivered stirring speeches that, at the very least, made themselves more well-known and will stoke talk of the next election.

  • Bobby Jindal

Had he been in Tampa he would, no doubt, have been included in the previous paragraph.  However, Hurricane Isaac’s assault on his state meant that he decided to skip the festivities and return home to deal with the storm.  Assuming all goes well with the clean-up and recovery, he’ll come off looking like a leader who put his state before his party – something people want in their leaders.  It’ll make him a very compelling candidate in 2016 or 2020 and, in fact, sets him apart from the other contenders.

LOSERS

  • Mitt Romney

Watching the speeches, one couldn’t help but wonder how excited the leaders in the party are about the Romney/Ryan ticket.  And how confident they are in a potential victory.  The convention keynote speaker, Chris Christie, took a full 16 minutes to mention Romney by name (in a 24 minute speech) and spent most of the time talking about himself.  To have that in your keynote speaker, doesn’t say good things about you.   Plus, one of Christie’s signature lines implied that people didn’t have to love Romney, they just have to respect him.   It’s often said that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line.  Rarely, however, do you hear that sentiment expressed so publicly and so obviously in a high-profile speech.

  • Party organizers

I’m not sure who had the idea of having Christie follow Ann Romney, but it didn’t work.  The fact that her speech was all about her love for her husband made Christie’s remarks about love not not being important seem callous and out-of-place.  At best it was a distraction and, at worst, it lessens the power of Ann Romney’s words.  Given that the Romney camp knew what Christie was going to say, spacing out the speeches would have made more sense.

  • The truth

Look, politicians have been lying, misleading, distorting and distracting since the beginning of time.  It’s nothing new and, sadly, it’s unlikely to change.  However, it’s been taken to a new low throughout this campaign and, the past two days, have taken us lower still.  Speeches by Senator John Thune, Governor Chris Christie and, especially, Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan have been notable for their misleading statements and downright lies.  But don’t take my word for it.  Fox News, in an opinion piece, called Paul Ryan’s speech “dazzling, deceiving and distracting” and commented that “The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.”

Among the many inaccuracies (and you can see a larger list in the Fox article) is around Medicare.  Ryan derided Obama for cutting more than $700b from Medicare as part of the Affordable Care Act and he said “A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.”  The fact is, however, that Ryan’s own budget assumes the EXACT SAME cost savings from Medicare and he spends that money elsewhere.  Finally, the reduction in funding actually, according to non-partisan experts, strengthened the program and, in fact, lowered the out-of-pocket payments that retirees had.   Why is it that even when they agree, they lie to create fake disagreements?

In addition, the theme of the first day of the convention was “We did build that,” a reference to President Obama’s statement about who should get credit for small business growth.  The accusation, repeated by speaker after speaker, is that, essentially, Obama doesn’t believe that innovators and entrepreneurs deserve credit for their success, because the Government did it for them.  Here, however, is the full quote they are attacking.

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

Now, I will be the first to acknowledge that Obama could have phrased his statement more artfully.  But, if you actually read the full quote (and not the truncated, carefully edited versions we are seeing in campaign ads), you see a very different message from what the Republican Party wants to you see.   And, in fact, the speakers they are trotting out there to help make their point, are proving Obama right.  Take Steven Cohen, president of Ohio-based manufacturing company Screen Machine Industries, who spoke at the convention last night.  In his speech, Cohen told delegates that he did build his company – problem is, his company received over $200K in Government stimulus money on top of the $2M+ in Government contracts they have claimed.  I don’t fault them for being successful – I fault them for lying.

So, all-in-all, it’s been quite the couple of days.  Looking forward to tonight and to seeing Mitt Romney’s vision for the future.  Here’s hoping he decides to give us more than Obama bashing and generalities.  Here’s hoping the fact checkers can take the night off!

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What???

Maybe instead of Candidate Tuesdays, I should do Outrage Tuesdays.   To mark this new example of politicians being IDIOTS, I bring you a short scene from the Governor’s mansion.

Governor Jindal (GJ) : Bill, is my helicopter ready?

Bill: What helicopter?

GJ: You know, the state one.  The one that tax-payers pay for so I can travel around the state.

Bill: Oh, that one.  Yeah, it is.  Where are you going on a Sunday morning?

GJ: There is this killer church up north that I want to check out for mass today.

Bill: And then what?

GJ: Oh, then I’ll come back here.  If the pilot is fast enough, I should be able to make it back by kick-off.

Bill: But, sir.  It is illegal to use the state helicopter for private purposes.

GJ: No it isn’t.

Bill: Yes, as a matter of fact it is.  And, there is that whole issue of separation of church and state.  Not just violating the law, but approaching violating the Constitution.

GJ: The what?

Bill: The Constitution.  That important document…

GJ: Oh!  I know what you mean.  Sarah Palin sent me a copy.  It’s like a magazine, with all those articles in it.

Bill: So you know what I’m talking about.

GJ: Nah, I skipped that article.  Seemed boring.  Ok, well I’m off.  Pray for me while I’m gone.  And, please make sure the chopper is available at the same time next week.  I hear Jesus is actually making an appearance 500 miles away.  Gotta fly.