Sunday, September 2, 2012

Political the right....

Okay, even though I am still feeling a little less than inspired right now (figured out part of the blahs were the beginning of a cold) I want to get this blog out of my head before the DNC starts next week and crowds out my impressions of the RNC.

Yes, I watched the RNC on television. Mostly just the prime-time keynote speeches. A few of the rest (thank you PBS for showing all of the speeches instead of just two a day) but mostly those were on while I was cooking dinner so I didn't absorb as much from them as I did the main event speeches of the evening. So those are the ones I am going to talk about and give my impression of how they went.

Now, as you all know I lean left in my politics though I am registered as unaffiliated I admit I am so socially left that I have a hard time with the Republican party as it stands today. Brent and I were discussing it this week, after I shared with him an NPR story where they interviewed formerly prominent Republican politicians that had been forced out of their positions by more hard line Tea Party candidates. These guys are the moderate Republicans, the ones I am more likely to vote for. The true socially liberal, fiscally conservative people, not the ones that bandy about terms like compassionate conservative just because they think it makes them sound better. As the two parties move more towards the edges they are leaving this wide berth in the center that just seems ripe for a third party to settle in. One that cares more about financing things in the ways that make the most sense than in a pledge that a man named after a muppet forces you to take before you ever even step foot in office and actually SEE what needs done. One that believes freedom means freedom and not just in the areas we say so, but in marriage equality, pregnancy choices and the like. But, alas, we aren't there, we are stuck with the two parties and watching them drift farther and farther apart.

So on to the RNC last week. I will take it night by night and give my top-line impressions. Governor Christie came out and started it off with a bang. Started what off? Why his candidacy for 2016 of course! What else could it have been? I think he might have mentioned Romney twice in his speech? Most of it was all about what he had accomplished in New Jersey. And that we were in for some hard choices and tough times. But he never really got in to what those might entail so I have to think he is waiting a few years to let us in on the details. It was a good speech, a solid speech but it didn't really move me any closer to what THIS candidate for president had to offer me.  Though he did mention that he trusts and likes Mitt Romney. Which was to be a recurring them over the next few nights.

Next up was Ann Romney who as expected just ripped her husband to shreds, he snatched her up at a high school dance and forced her to live in a basement,  he was never home, he was always at work leaving her to raise 5 undisciplined boys on her own, but that's okay because women, we are made to do more work for less appreciation, am I right, girls? Okay, that's not exactly how it went, but I have to admit I wasn't impressed with her speech, though I know a lot of people were. Including every anchor on NBC. I think my biggest problem was that she had been built up so much, eloquent, secret weapon, wonderful speaker, that I was expecting an Elizabeth Dole level speech and I didn't get that. What I got was a woman who is clearly in love with her husband who thinks we should be too. She trusts him. He is a good man. He is such a nice guy. And you know what? I am sure he is. This is my own bias showing through here, but every Mormon I've ever met has been Canadian levels of polite and nice so I have no doubt in my mind that he is as well. And she also said something that was repeated throughout the week, not only in speeches but in interviews with other prominent Republicans, you might not agree with Mitt's policies but you have to admit he's a nice guy.

Okay, swell. He's a nice guy. But if I don't agree with his policies why in the hell would I vote for him? Didn't we all fall for this once before? "He just seems like a guy you'd want to grab a beer with." I heard that over and over when Bush the younger and Gore were running against each other. And it drove me nuts. Then go grab a fucking beer with him, but don't make him president! Okay, Mitt seems like a nice guy, then like him all you want but if you don't agree with his policies then don't put him in office. That's just silly.

Anyway, she also finally hit the success thing on the head. This has been driving me nuts all election season. Why did he want to downplay the fact that he has money? Now, during the convention they spent a lot of time trying to say that the Democrats demonized his success, and there might be some of that (though I think it's more how he got his money and the amount of taxes he has paid) but be honest here, you know he has been running from it as well. Finally Ann Romney was owning it! He's a success and this is a good thing...but then she had to go back to the "we are just folks" well.  I am really tired of hearing about that basement apartment. About eating ramen and tuna. Because there is nothing behind it. In an earlier interview (earlier in his career) she mentioned that they once got so broke they had to sell stock. Let that sink in. Because for most of us "just folks" there was no stock to sell. Once Brent and I got so broke that we...well...we scraped by with what we had until payday. And that once was really once a month. Sometimes twice. That's the difference. Safety nets are great things. Don't try and pretend you didn't have one. Be grateful and talk about how we all can get one as well.

She also mentioned that they didn't have a fairy tale marriage, they had a real one. Because she had cancer and MS. So they have suffered which makes them real. All that shows is that disease doesn't play politics. Republicans get sick as well as Democrats. And I am glad she is doing well. And I am glad she had the healthcare and the money to get sufficient treatment. I just wish they could see that it does make a difference. Yes, everyone gets sick, but the options you have for treatment are different depending on how much you make. Tell me how you are going to make it okay for everyone in this country. How you are going to make sure that everyone who gets one of these terrible diseases has a chance to get the best treatment without it bankrupting them. I am glad you are healthy, but what about everyone else? This is what I want to know. But that's not Ann's place to tell me, she's just here as a character witness for her husband, who is a nice guy that we should all trust.

So the next night I missed the beginning of Condoleezza Rice's speech because I wasn't watching PBS and she went on a few minutes early. But I got the main thrust of it. Again, not a whole lot about Romney there. And even less about the president she served under, which is sort of amazing to me. Maybe in 2016 they will allow his name to be mentioned more than just once in a convention and only then if he is seen in the company of his father. But again this was a great speech. Rice seems to have something about her that let the whole Bush mess slide right off her. I like her, and you all know how I felt about him. I think she might have been throwing her hat for 2016 right next to Governor Christie's. Her speech was just as you would think it would be. Calm, eloquent, firm. She spoke of the problems in the world and that to help fix them America needs to lead. Which is great, but the Romney/Ryan ticket is a little light on foreign policy experience, maybe a Rice/Powell ticket in 2016 would be stronger.  (yes, I know I am back there again, but seriously, that would be a TICKET folks!) At the end of her speech, though I disagree with a few things in there I was ready to vote. The problem is I was ready to vote for her, not Mitt.

And then the big ticket speech of the night. Paul Ryan took the stage. The policy budget wonk was going to come out and dazzle us with actual plans and numbers. Right? This is why he is on the ticket. Because he understands what needs to be done. Here was going to be the red meat of the "hard choices" we had heard about. And then....well...then. This is where I started talking back to the television. I'm sorry, folks, but when you play so fast and loose with the facts that Fox News feels the need to post about it on their front page you have a problem. Just repeating false statements over and over doesn't make them true. Pretending that it was all Obama's fault and listing out things to "prove" your point that you had a hand in defeating or passing? It was just silly. And it made me mad. Because you know and I know that there are those out there that believe what they hear and never take another second to actually do the research themselves. So the lies become their truth. And we are stuck with people trying to argue from a point of fantasy instead of fact. Yes, he was dynamic. Yes, he fired up the crowd. But if I am supposed to trust Mitt Romney so much why is his running mate standing on stage lying to me? Though who ever his speech writer* was that came up with the line "trying to sail a ship on yesterday's wind" needs a raise. I had to stop mid rant and tell Brent how much I liked that line. It's pure poetry.  Not enough to stop me from coming away from Ryan's speech with a bad taste in my mouth but a great line nonetheless.

On to the final night! First off the worst kept "secret" guest of the night. Clint Eastwood took the stage and...I still have no real words for this. Just a head shake. Okay, wait, that's a lie, I have the words I used when I told Brent about it since he missed the whole debacle. Mean. Crazy. Rambling. Disrespectful of not only the sitting president but also of the candidate he was there to endorse. And I have to say that if it were done on the left the right would be having a field day with the "Hollywood elite" angle. Watching Ann Romney the next morning on news shows as she was asked her impression of it I was reminded once again how polite and nice most of the Mormon people I have met are, "We appreciate his support" smile pause....subject change....

Then Marco Rubio took the stage and gave another good speech. This one with three moments that stuck out for me. First off he hit that "disagree with his policies but nice guy" angle again. He also quoted the Bible and was met with a resounding silence in the room. He was describing all of the good things that Mitt Romney has done and relating it to his success and his ability to do more because of that. "To whom much is given, much is required." Oops. Overstepped there, Marco. This is not a room that wants a reminder that the Bible tells them that they need to help out other people. That if you have a lot you should give a lot. You know, like pay your share of taxes instead of using every loophole you can find and making more if you are in a position to do so. I am always puzzled at how the party can blend their Ayn Rand beliefs and their biblical ones, her principles of looking out for #1 work fine for an atheist (like herself) but not so much for a Christian who is told in the Bible to take care of people who need it. And I think the silence he was met with showed this. Then he also misspoke and hoped that our children would know that we chose a path of more government and less freedom. I felt badly for him at that point. But as anyone who has given speeches knows it's very easy to drop a word or switch a sentence and end up saying something you didn't mean to. But nobody seemed to notice that so on to the man of the hour....

And Mitt Romney gave me exactly what I had expected him to. Not a whole lot. No plan. No numbers. No indication of what hard choices I was going to be expected to make under him. Just a lot of how Obama had failed. How the proudest moment we all had was in voting for him (Ummm, Mitt, I'm pretty sure the people in that room didn't) and that now we should just move along. Well, I need more than that. Because actually President Obama repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell which was a pretty proud moment for me. He also gave the order to kill Bin Laden which as much as it feels wrong to celebrate the death of someone else was a pretty good moment for me as well, if you can call staring at the television listening the president with tears streaming down your face and a sense of "finally" coming over you as you hear your neighborhood start to come alive with people whooping and cheering a good moment. No wait, it was an excellent moment.

There was talk about becoming energy independent. Okay, great, how? And how are you going to achieve that while still protecting the environment? Because that's important to a lot of us. There was talk about forcing China to change it's money policies. Oh really? You can do that as president? That's new. Standing by Israel. Have you ever wondered how many Israelis vote in our elections? Because they seem to be a pretty sought after demographic. And a threat to Iran. So we are getting out of the two wars we are in right now and starting another? Fabulous. And doing that while cutting more taxes? Amazing. A mention about making abortion and gay marriage both unconstitutional, because the rights of the fetus are more important than the rights of the adult. And, of course, repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act. Because, god forbid, anyone but the wealthy get a chance to live out the rest of their real marriage when one of them gets sick. The rest of you are on your own. Good luck with that.

So what I got over all was that Mitt Romney is a nice guy and I should trust him. His policy choices might not be what I would want (and it seems as though they aren't) but I should go ahead and vote for him anyway. Umm...yeah, no. Unless and until you give me a strong numbers driven plan that shows me exactly how you are going to lead this country out of the mess we are in you don't have my vote. I understand that the RNC is really a rally point for the faithful but I would have liked a little effort in there for showing me why I should vote for you. More than that your wife loves you.

Next week the DNC. What do you think the odds are that I will get anything concrete out of that one? Yeah, that's my thought as well....but if the RNC was any indication at least I will get to see who is planning a run in 2016.

*Edit 9/8/12 After posting this blog I Googled the line and found that it actually came from a Louis L'Amour book.

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