WRUN Admin Pattie here, on “Convention Cop” duty for this evening. The idea of “Convention Cop” is to follow the evening’s speeches, actions and events and provide fact-checking, instant reactions, thoughts, and opinions. Though the opinions are my obviously own, bleeding heart liberal that I am, I aim to stay fair on the facts. Now we know that the Romney/Ryan team isn’t too fond of fact checkers but I will bravely soldier on!
A quick word about me, in the interest of full disclosure: I have not been able to watch a full night of the RNC since 1992, when Pat Buchanan’s keynote speech opened my 16-year-old eyes to a lot of things about the Republican Party that I could not see myself associating with politically. Two years later, when I registered to vote in my first election, it was Buchanan’s voice echoing in my head as I checked the box for ‘Democrat.’ So it’s pretty much a given that I’m going to find things to disagree with tonight but that’s what living in a republic (small r) is all about.
So here we go, my first RNC night in 20 years.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – RNC Evening Line-up of Speakers:
• Call to order
• Introduction of Colors by Amputee Veterans of America Support Team
• Pledge of Allegiance by Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Rea, U.S. Army (Ret.)
• National Anthem sung by Ayla Brown
• Invocation by Ishwar Singh
• Ron Paul video
• Remarks by Senate Republican leader and Convention Temporary Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
• Remarks by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
• Remarks by Christopher Devlin-Young and Jeanine McDonnell
• Remarks by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
• Remarks by Attorney General Pam Bondi, R-Fla., Attorney General Sam Olens, R-Ga.
• Remarks by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
• Remarks by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio
• Remarks by Gov. Luis Fortuño, R-Puerto Rico
• Remarks by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.
• Bush 41, 43 film
• Remarks by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.
• Remarks by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
• Remarks by Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M.
• Remarks by vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
• Benediction by Archbishop Demetrios
Hmmmm, I don’t recall the nightly agendas at the 1992 Convention being quite this long. I’m going to need more caffeine.
Reaction to remarks from Mitch McConnell, R-Ky:
Quote: “We know what the president’s got on his iPod, but we don’t know what he plans to do about a looming tax hike that could trigger yet another serious recession that would result in even more Americans losing their jobs.”
OK, McConnell neglects to mention that the 112th Congress has had the President’s jobs plan – the American Jobs Act – since September of 2011 and has done exactly bupkiss -not even any meaningful debate – with it ever since. They were too busy voting the repeal the Affordable Care Act over 30 times and naming post offices.
Reaction to the Bush 41 and Bush 43 Tag Team Appeal for Mitt Romney:
Seriously? Could they have found former world leaders who have LESS credibility on foreign policy than these two? OK, maybe not 41 as much as 43 but 43 skews things A LOT. He makes Romney’s disastrous overseas trip look GOOD. Hey, maybe that was the intent?
Also, if the GOP had their flashy deficit clocks running during the entire Bush 43 Administration, it would have ticked up to the tune of $5 trillion. Just saying.
Reaction to remarks by Senator John McCain:
Hey remember when McCain was considered a moderate? When he worked with Senate Dems to get stuff done? When he almost switched parties (yeah, that really almost happened)? When he stood up to the Bush Administration on torture? When he talked about for President running on a one-term pledge? I kinda liked that guy. The guy who’s speaking now, not so much.
McCain says he “trusts” Romney on foreign policy but doesn’t elaborate. (Maybe he can elaborate on why, after seeing ten years of Romney’s tax returns in 2008, he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.) Back to foreign policy, he’s slamming Obama on Syria and Afghanistan but Romney’s policy proposals are essentially the same. Doesn’t acknowledge that Obama directed the operation that killed Bin Laden after Bush 43 gave up trying.
Still McCain said, “The president has discouraged our friends and emboldened our enemies.” How exactly? No details.
On domestic issues, let’s not forget that McCain said earlier this year that the GOP war on women does not exist. He doesn’t talk domestic policy much tonight, though, which is interesting given that he ran for President only four years ago.
I’m bummed. I respected the John McCain that lived through Hell for our country and treated his job in the Senate as a privilege and not a right. I miss that guy. I don’t know who the one who spoke tonight is anymore.
In addition to the “we can change it” theme, GOP speakers tonight keep talking about how America is a meritocracy and people can still succeed based on their abilities, not their connections. So far they’ve tried to make that point by highlighting the late Governor George Romney of Michigan and his son, the GOP nominee for President. Ron and Rand Paul, the father-son team of legislators, and former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Hmmmm. Maybe missed the mark on that?
Reaction to remarks from Rand Paul:
Interesting that the younger Paul had no ideological issues with endorsing Romney, even though his father Ron Paul did not do the same. Perhaps it had something to do with delegates in the crowd shouting “Paul 2016!” when Paul the Younger took the stage. Awk-ward!
Rand quote: “We have nothing to fear except our own unwillingness to defend what is naturally ours, our God-given rights. We have nothing to fear that should cause us to forget or relinquish our rights as free men and women.”
Since you brought it up, Rand, how does that statement inform your opposition to the Civil Rights Act and other civil rights legislation? I’m just curious.
Update: Apparently the Ron Paul delegates walked out en masse from the convention floor after the Ron Paul video and Rand Paul’s speech. Guess you can cross that chorus of “Kumbaya” off the evening’s agenda.
Reaction to remarks from Pam Biondi:
The GOP’s new golden girl. Spent Florida’s taxpayer funds fighting the Affordable Care Act and therefore seems to hold a grudge against one Supreme Court Justice Roberts. Also hates the Roe v. Wade decision with the burning fire of a thousand suns. In her speech tonight, Biondi repeats the common GOP assertion that our military doesn’t fight for universal health care. (Has she asked them? Because I have and guess what? Soldiers are big fans of health care for everyone because they’ve seen firsthand what happens when people don’t have it.) Alas, none of this matters to the RNC delegates on Twitter who only seem to care that Biondi is “hot.” Sigh.
Reaction to remarks from Senator John Thune:
OK, as a first generation American myself I take HUGE offense at lawmakers who trot out sepia-toned tales of their immigrant ancestors coming to this country to “work hard” but then support legislation that treats contemporary immigrants like criminals. Getting Buchanan 1992 flashbacks.
Reaction to remarks from Senator Rob Portman:
Portman asks where’s Obama’s jobs bill? Ummm, sitting in Congress since September 2011. We’ve been over this. Check underneath the pile of anti-woman legislation you guys have been proposing. See it? To the left. Oh wait, that’s the problem.
Reaction to remarks from Gov. Tim Pawlenty:
Quote: “I’ve come to realize that Barack Obama is the tattoo president. Like a big tattoo, it seemed cool when you were young.”
Huh? I hope they weren’t banking on Pawlenty shoring up the youth vote. Overall, His speech was a series of disjointed pot shots at Obama and Biden, stand up comic style. No need to fact check because the entire speech seemed entirely uncontaminated by facts. Hence the prime speaking spot, I suppose. Moving on….
Reaction to remarks from Former Governor Mike Huckabee:
Well, he kicked off the speech with a tasteless joke about DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz so it can only go uphill, right? Fingers crossed. Also, calling the RNC a “perfect week” when cities and towns on the Gulf Coast are being pounded by a hurricane, 60% of New Orleans is without power, and thousands of people have evacuated their homes? Classy, Mike. Very classy. Doesn’t anyone vet these damn speeches?
And there’s that pesky “war and religion” line about the Affordable Care Act that completely ignores the exceptions that religious organizations receive. The line is a two-fer because it stealthily revives the “Obama is a Muslim” myth that the right loves so much without having to state it explicitly. Ever notice that when Republicans insist there is a “war on religion” they ignore a bunch of religions that aren’t Christianity?
Huckabee, a vocal Akin supporter, actually tried to attack Obama on women’s rights. Yeah, he actually did. After he opened with a crass joke about a female legislator. I stand corrected, these speeches are vetted by state-of-the-art GOP-designed software: MaxMisogyny version 2.12.
Reaction to remarks from former Secretary of State Condelezza Rice:
9/11 and the Iraq War? Seriously? You’re going to lead with that? And she’s attacking Obama on Syria when a) the GOP itself is split on the issue and refuses to engage Obama on Syria and b) Romney’s Syria policy is pretty much the same. Why exactly is the GOP focusing so much on Syria?
Head-scratching moment, expanding school vouchers are a civil rights issue? Huh? So that schools can become even MORE segregated? You lost me there, Condi. There is no logic to that statement. (More disclosure: both my husband and I work in public education, he at a public high school, while I am at a community college.)
Overall, Rice’s speech is the most moderate of the night so far (but remember we are grading on a steep curve). Remember when the GOP had moderates? Also, seemingly every Democrat on Twitter points out that despite numerous references to the Iraq War and 9/11, Rice fails to mention that the Obama Administration directed the raid on Bin Laden. Did she and McCain compare speeches beforehand?
Reaction to remarks from Governor Susana Martinez:
Your mileage may vary on this but this one came off to me as the same speech as Thune, only with some parts in Spanish. Why do they think the rules that allowed their immigrant ancestors to succeed in this country should not apply to contemporary immigrants?
Reaction to remarks from Rep. Paul Ryan, VP nominee:
Kicks off speech by again blaming Obama for the closure of a Wisconsin GM plant that closed under Bush 43, fact checkers be damned!
Speaking of facts: Ryan’s bitching about the debt when most of it was created by the two wars, tax cuts, and spending plans he voted for under Bush 43. And by the way, he won’t support a plan to generate revenue (from taxes) to pay down said debt.
Vows to win the Medicare debate because his mom was a role model? Ummm, what about the moms who rely on Medicare and can’t afford to have it gutted and so they end up paying more? Where do they shake out in that plan?
Obligatory attack on the Affordable Care Act. No acknowledgement on the similarity to Romneycare. Makes me wonder how Romney is going to manage to simultaneously bash and take credit for government health care in his speech tomorrow. I have no doubt that he’s going to try. There are very few issues that Romney does not try to be on both sides of, publicly.
Quote: “Mitt and I also go to different kinds of churches but best kind of preaching is done by example.”
Really? What did Jesus say about helping the poor again?
OK, now we are talking about protecting the weak? With a straight face he’s saying that? Because his voting record and the very budget plan that bears his name is pretty “weak” on protecting the weak, poor, etc. So much so that faith leaders called it “immoral.“ Oh, and if someone is sick and needs, say, health care, don’t they need protection? No, not according to Ryan. Avowed Ayn Rand follower is preaching to us about protecting the weak. You read that right. It’s a good thing I was already sitting down.
For a being part of campaign that doesn’t want to be dictated by fact checkers, Paul Ryan just gave fact checkers a lot to do. None of them are sleeping tonight.
He’s done. At last.
I’m not going to make a joke and say that this was several hours of my life I’m not getting back because I do think this was worthwhile. I think as a voter, it’s important to take time to listen to the lawmakers you disagree with, not only to know what they believe but to really examine what you believe. I still believe that I could not be a member of the Republican Party, which was pretty much the same conclusion I came to 20 years ago. That said, I also think it’s important to know that I am not the same person I was 20 years ago and this is certainly not the same GOP of 1992. As mentioned above, the GOP of 1992 still had many moderates, such as Arlen Specter and (at the time) John McCain. The Republican leadership at the time made the calculated decision to give Pat Buchanan and the extreme right of the party a starring role at the convention. A decision that many analysts now agree was a mistake.
Today I feel that that moderates are largely gone from the party, voted out or muted by the Tea Party. The views that were considered the “fringe” of the GOP in 1992 are now the mainstream. The Republicans I respected and felt would work with the Democrats to move on issues now get tossed out in primaries. Congress in session (because Mark Twain would roll over in his grave if I said “action”) is now very hard to distinguish from the spectacle of a national political convention. People making speeches, blasting opponents for doing nothing, and essentially doing nothing themselves. Honestly, if the delegates had decided to rename some post offices on the convention floor tonight, they would have likely matched the productivity level of the 112th Congress.
Will the Democrats do better in North Carolina? Obviously I’m biased but I am curious to see how their VP nominating night contrasts with tonight. If you are too, tune in next week. I’m going to stock up on caffeine and try this again.
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