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RNC Day 3 – Convention Cop

By Deliciously Geek
Guest Blogger and Women’s Historian

So in what could only be called “a tragic failure to refuse” I blindly agreed to be Thursday’s “Convention Cop” for WRUN. No doubt the admins could have found someone a little more passionate, a little more knowledgeable about politics  – but on what should be the biggest night of the convention, with Romney speaking for himself finally, you lovely lot have little old me.

I am not a politician, an activist, or even a partisan – I’m first a feminist and an historian. And what you get in response to tonight’s RNC coverage will no doubt reflect those perspectives.

To begin with, the Reagan-worshipping Gingriches, Newt and the ever-plastic Callista compared Romney’s popularity to the actor-turned-president. This was followed by the inevitable Carter-Obama comparison and how, during each of their terms, neither was able to turn around the government they had been handed- which is probably the most important overlooked fact of the entire rhetoric. Carter inherited his government from Gerald Ford, perhaps the most accidentally-comedic president since Taft; Ford himself had inherited a broken, war-scarred government, and he was inept at worst, unprepared at best. Obama inherited a country which had spent seven years fighting a “war on terror” that it was nowhere near to winning. Not once has anyone given a thought about where the country had come from before Democrats such as Carter, Clinton, and Obama were elected.

Have the Gingriches, and those who are like-minded, completely forgotten the principles of Reaganomics? I suppose I can offer a quick refresher: In 1980, Reagan proposed a phased-in 30% tax cut, the bulk of which would be concentrated in the upper-income brackets. This focus on those who had the most wealth was based on the idea that they would spend more, which would in turn boost the middle-income economy, causing them to spend more and boost the lower-income economy. This supposed “trickle-down theory” was meant to stimulate the entire economy from the top down. The key word here was trickle- that’s all that was left when it finally reached those of the lowest income brackets. Under Reagan, the economy fluctuated wildly, and that paired with trillions in defense spending caused the largest deficit the country had ever seen: the national debt tripled between 1980 and 1988.

…And this is the America the GOP wants to restore? “The decade of greed” is best left to the history and economics books. We are no longer at war with a gas-giant like the Soviet Union. We are no longer trying to quash Communism at every corner. Ladies (and the occasional gentleman), we are only fighting the legacy of those years.

Whew – that got deep. Let’s bring in the comic relief – Mr. Clint Eastwood! Now, I love me some Eastwood – Dirty Harry, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, Any Which Way but Loose – but I’m wondering who thought it would be a good idea to allow him to speak tonight. He might have had a few amusing things to say, but frankly, he just looked ridiculous talking to the empty chair he kept affectionately referring to as “Mr. President.” Get this man a handler – that would make MY day.

Eastwood awkwardly segued to Mark Rubio, the former VP-would be hopeful from Florida. As early as last fall, I even conceded that the smart move would be to choose Rubio as a running mate – he had the melting pot written all over him. The problem, I think, is that Rubio comes from Florida, that state of dangling chad and Jeb Bush. While his ethnic background might have been a boon, his political background and experience might have been more of a hindrance.  So let’s hear him speak about not being chosen, and why we should believe Romney is the man for the mission.

Rubio’s focus seemed to be twofold: you can come from nothing and become something; and our path to economic salvation is by trusting in god. Time for an ethics lesson and an history lesson.

Couched in a number of similar phrases, Rubio said, “[Obama] tells Americans that they’re worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making others poor”. This is a cold, harsh truth of capitalism: one cannot prosper, under capitalist theory, without someone else falling into poverty. In order for a capitalist economy to function properly, there must be always be some small percentage of unemployment, some percentage of the population in abject poverty, in order to keep the cost of commodities (food, land, and even labor itself) down and market prices even. Not a pretty picture if you spend time considering just how much we Americans value our “enlightened capitalist” views.

Now the history lesson:
Rubio eventually claimed that “America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights.” The problem here is that America was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment: there is a natural order to the universe, and as human beings we are granted natural rights which include life, liberty, and property. We have the right to self-government; we have the right to form a government as a way to protect those rights, in order to advance humanity and society as a whole, with the full knowledge that we give up some of our natural rights in order to form said government. Our founding fathers were faithful students of the Enlightenment, not religious men, who wanted nothing more than for the white landed males to find happiness (self-actualization) within a self-administered government. The original motto of our country was E Pluribus Unum – “one from many”- referring to the unifying of the various colonies into one federal unit. There was no mention of god or trust, just the firm assertion that in solidarity there is strength.

Perhaps Rubio could take a pointer from that lesson – his speech was very much about himself, not about what his party could do for this country. He wasn’t priming the audience for Romney. He was promoting himself for 2016.

But because we are still mired in 2012, Romney made his grand entrance like the great white bride making her short-lived but glorious voyage down the aisle. Thankfully, there were no hideously dressed bridesmaids… I take that back. There was this guy.

Romney’s speech was perhaps best summed up when he said “I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country” – he could have stopped there and we would have all come to the same conclusion: Romney is middle of the road. His delivery was clearly rehearsed, perhaps coached by Mr. Cleaver, and it seemed as if applause and laugh tracks were timed appropriately. He predictably emphasized Obama’s shortcomings in the last few years, he managed to say many words with little substance, and he made promises that he will no doubt be unable to keep should he be elected. That is the lot of politicians.

However, the tame, controlled Romney was briefly overcome when he got to the following: “What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.” No one can argue with that – our unemployment rate is uncomfortable at best; middle-aged experienced employees are competing with college-dropouts for retail and entry-level positions at the most base rate of pay. Romney worked himself into a frenzy by the time he got to “by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables” and he topped it off with the icing of Republican cake: “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.” Freedom of, or freedom from? Romney ended his appearance with a group prayer after the children and grandchildren had been trotted out for public adoration.

This has been called Romney’s “speech of his life” – but not for its content or its promise. This was a speech about his life, about Romney the man, and his obviously passionate views about his family and his values. In anyone else, this might be admirable. In a politician, this can be terrifying – especially in a politician who seems to have studied acting under Hugh Beaumont or Robert Young.  As I watch and listen to Romney speak, I keep thinking he’s playing a politician. He sounds…fake.  Perhaps he really, truly, fundamentally believes what he’s saying, but his delivery comes across like an overblown Will Ferrell role.  And honestly, this shakes my very soul – we put an actor in the White House once. Look at what happened. Look. Carefully.


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RNC Day 2 – Convention Cop

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:

7 p.m.:

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

8 p.m.:

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

9 p.m.:

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.

10 p.m.:

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

Adjournment

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.

Random Observation:

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.

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

 


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What to Expect When You’re Expecting Ann Romney

by Siobhan Carroll, Guest Blogger
Braevehearts blog

Ann Romney, candidate spouse and known equestrian.

I was on tap to do a recap of today’s RNC events, but as we know Isaac the liberal hurricane is bearing down on the gulf coast, ready to ruffle helmet hair and ruin delegates’ prime time makeup for miles around Tampa. Therefore, Monday’s events consist of the following:

Monday, August 27, 2012

2:00 p.m.         Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus

Call to Order/Start Debt Clocks

2:10 p.m.         Announcement of Recess

Ten minutes to start the debt clock that will be running outside of a coliseum built with public funds during an event that will cost the republican national committee a couple hundred million dollars. Let’s rename it Hurricane Irony!

So let’s focus a bit on Tuesday – the key speakers of the day are Ann Romney and Chris Christie. This is a fascinating dichotomy- the millionaire housewife and mother, usually demure, always polite vs. New Jersey’s head blowhard. I’m genuinely interested in Ann Romney’s remarks, as I haven’t heard much from her outside of her referring to us as “you people” during her famous tax return comments (right back atcha Anniekins!). It is clear that she is a devoted wife and mother, and Mitt has said he looks to her for advice,  much like Barack does to Michelle. Her speech gives us an opportunity to see what Mitt’s Advisor-in-Chief is really like. Does she rely on their shared Mormon faith for guidance? Does her multiple sclerosis give her a particular empathy for those without healthcare in our country? Does raising five sons mean she takes a keen interest in the education reform?

All signs point to yes, no, and no. She converted to Mormonism to marry Mitt when she was just 20 years old. She was his liaison for federal faith-based initiatives while he was governor of Massachusetts and spear-headed an abstinence based sex education program in the state. It is clear that the Romney’s joint faith is a key not only to their conservative policies but to the political  machinations of the Republican party. Experiences like Ann’s only add to the conservative bona fides of her husband, universal healthcare in Massachusetts be damned.

Now might be a good time for a small but crucial digression. For all the accusations about socialism in the Obama administration, Mormonism is socialistic in nature, much like any organized church. Mormons require their adherents to tithe 10% of their income to the church, which then “redistributes” it primarily to its seat in Salt Lake City and its parishes, known as stakes. What is now known as Deseret Industries and is a thrift store not unlike Goodwill, began as food and clothing pantry for needy Mormons. Many Mormon families contributed their tithe in the form of preserves, canned goods, and clothing, which were then made available to Mormons who came upon hard times. No questions were asked, no payment was accepted; it was the unwritten rule that when you could give back, you did.

Think on that for a moment. From charity born out of the tight-knit Mormon tradition, to today’s discussion of welfare cuts and denial of unemployment benefits- how does that happen? I believe it comes from a bad case of the “Others”. Mormonism has always been considered a fringe religion, despite its nominal Christianity, which would of course breed a sense of being different from the outside world. Some might become insecure with their faith in the face of suspicion from outside, but those who maintained their faith became even more steadfast, more sure of their moral superiority. That’s where I believe we find Mitt and Ann today.

Born of wealth and privilege, they have no sense of what those who are looking to build brighter futures for our families must go through. The costs of education, childcare, gasoline and medical insurance are mere blips to those who think struggling through graduate school means living off the dividends of stock investments made decades earlier by the Governor of Michigan.

Do I think they are sympathetic? Sure. Empathetic? No way. Ann Romney has battled breast cancer and MS. Does she worry about her insurance not covering procedures? My friend had to start a Facebook campaign so her insurance company would continue to cover transfusions that have stonewalled her MS. Highly doubt Mrs. Romney needed to work the phones to get her senator involved in her health issues- after all, she was sleeping with the governor!*

Ann and Mitt’s five boys attended the private Belmont Hill School in Boston. As their father completed Harvard Law and Business schools and moved on to his lucrative career with Bain Capital, it is difficult to see how the Romneys might have given even a cursory glance to the public education system in their hometown, and Mitt’s plan emphasizing school choice over teacher quality and classroom size is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.

We can expect a few sure things from Ann on Tuesday night. Lots of talk about what a good man Mitt is. Some awesome anecdotes that I hope are as inadvertently hilarious as the dog on the car roof story. A touching tale told with perhaps with a single tear streaming down her face about Mitt’s steadfast commitment during her illnesses. The entire speech will be intended to connect- to humanize and make us feel something for Ann and Mitt that we haven’t yet before.

And that’s the problem – we feel something for them already. But they don’t feel a damn thing for us.

*this line is kinda rude. I apologize for it, but only a little bit.