Live Blogging the Republican National Convention: 3rd and Final Night

Note: Due to my late arrival to live-blogging the Republican National Convention tonight, I will have a later update about tonight’s earlier Convention speeches.  I’ll start again with the updates…as soon as anything happens.  (Olympic Gold Medalist speaking at 9:34 pm.)

11:28 pm: Timothy Dolan, Cardinal-Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in New York, gives a closing benediction to the 2012 Republican National Convention.  He said that he took this position as a part of his religious mission rather than on a partisan basis; but his call upon his god to renew in us a yearning for liberty, and for religious liberty (an allusion to his fight earlier this year with President Obama over Health and Human Services’ ill-fated call for religious organizations to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees), and for God to call us to renew our faith in his moral order rather than to “set-up false gods of our own making” are all pretty transparent references to the rhetoric of the Republican platform.  Actually, this was perhaps the most contemporaneously-partisan benediction since Texas Governor Rick Perry held that massive prayer rally in Houston a year ago.  He told us that was about moral renewal rather than partisanship, too.

4 days later, he announced he was running for President.

11:17 pm: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: 2 hard-working, attractive, personally-decent men who were born into wealth and power, and really don’t know what it is to face deprivation.  Somehow they manage to embody both Republicans’ self-idealization and the unappreciable difference of being rich in a country where the fact of wealth itself generates even greater wealth without effort.  I respect these men–I really do–and I could say I trusted them if I didn’t believe that their wealth deprived them of a concept of poverty.  I give them credit for giving us such a clear self-representation, and presenting such a stark choice of both philosophy and policy between themselves and President Obama.  At the very least, they are worthy adversaries for the election.

11:14 pm: Governor Romney waxes grandiose on a number of assurances we have heard before, and the 2012 Republican National Convention draws to a close.  In all, they stayed on-message, and I really am impressed by the extent to which they took the high road, emphasizing their own appeal rather than finding a bunch of nasty things to say about their opponents.  (Oh, they took some cheap shots, and I’m really tired of the “You didn’t build that” misquote of the President, but if you saw the 2008 Republican National Convention, this looks like an act of penance.)

11:09 pm: Governor Romney just attacked President Obama for not being tough enough on Iran.  Talk about a back-seat driver: I’m serious about nuclear non-proliferation, too–but the sanctions on Iran are working, the President is the reason the pressure is still on Iran, and quite frankly self-styled “cowboy” George W. Bush never found a tact for dealing with Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.  Now we’re supposed to think President Romney’s loud declaratives will go somewhere?

11:06 pm: Governor Romney promises that “Unlike the President, I will not raise taxes on middle-class America.”  I’m really frustrated that Republicans continue to pretend President Obama raised taxes when he cut them.  I mean, yes, he has proposed raising taxes on the rich, but he gave us the payroll tax cut that gave an extra $1,000 a year to the average-income family.  Oh, and he wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for those middle-class families, too.

11:03 pm: OK, there we go: Governor Romney actually said during his acceptance speech that he would create 12 million new American jobs.  So much for the creative destruction of capitalism, the heroic individualism of the market producer, and spiritual discipline against resentment…

10:58 pm: Governor Romney offers the secret to success: It’s about getting back up and trying again, even in the absence of confirmatory evidence that one will succeed.  He’s got something there, but it’s a biographical account of people who have changed the World, not a social policy.  This is the problem with basing an economic policy on an idea of heroic individualism: It can’t make us into a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs or a Mark Zuckerberg.  There are only going to be a few Thomas Edisons; the audience is getting a contact high off a very expensive product.

10:54 pm: No, Governor, the warmest feelings I have towards President Obama are not from when I voted for him.  They are from when he overcame many vested interests and decades of policy fatalism and passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, striking a decisive blow against the greatest systematic injustice of our political system since segregation.

10:49 pm: Wow, when Governor Romney cracked-up a bit when he mentioned the passing of his father, I felt that.  In general, I agree with the opinion offered by a friend: “He’s such a ham.”  I don’t mean any personal aversion towards Governor Romney in saying that; it amounts to what I just said about the Republicans’ current pursuit of the “warm, fuzzy feeling.”  But when he briefly recalled the passing of his father, I felt it.

10:47 pm: “All the legislation in the world will never go so far as the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers.”  Again, I like a lot of Republican sentiments without seeing their necessary connection to Republican policies.  Sure, they have a plausible connection, but I see their impulse to a cold vilification of popular Democratic policies that are pretty straightforwardly for the benefit not only of the poor but of the middle class, their thirst to enumerate many incidental disappointments of current Democratic policies without context, and to follow-up with the vagaries of warmth, as if replacing Medicare with vouchers or letting insurance companies reject policy claimants with pre-existing medical conditions will somehow right the ship of state, just as the Founding Fathers intended.

10:46 pm: Governor Romney directed applause to the shade of Neil Armstrong.  I don’t know if that particular shade was invited to the Convention.

10:43 pm: For a minute there, I seriously thought Governor Romney was going to re-write The Wall.

10:42 pm: Governor Romney picks up the personal appeal where Senator Rubio left off: Our current generation of largely-unemployed high school graduates deserve better because they have worked hard.  I imagine such a combination of pathos and flattery will have at least a visceral appeal.

10:38 pm: A more-cynical man than myself would hear in Romney’s joke about how much Congressman Ryan loves his mom a passive effort to file the latter’s teeth down just a bit, coming off of last night…

10:36 pm: Governor Mitt Romney is on, and he accepts the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  This was supposed to get underway at, what, 10:30?  Clint Eastwood really put them back; good man.

10:31 pm: On night 1, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asked how future generations would remember us.  On night 2, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued that challenge.  Tonight it’s Rubio.  They certainly want to put the burden on you, the voter, to feel the weight of this moment.  I remember feeling particularly enthusiastic about Senator Obama’s candidacy 4 years ago because I felt like I was playing a very small part in a great historical moment.  As someone who will support him without reservations in the coming election, I hope President Obama and his re-election campaign don’t underestimate the power of those sentiments if his political opponents seek to appropriate it.

10:25 pm: Senator Rubio is addressing himself to the 20-somethings who still live with their parents.  He assures us that “America is always a land of new beginnings.”  In a few minutes he is launching into a personal story of living with limited means.  He recalls having to be told by his father that he will succeed.  He characterizes his adult life as a journey from standing behind a bar to standing behind the podium at the convention.   The Convention audience is connecting with him; I’ll bet young adults who are bothering to watch this speech will identify with Rubio.  He is supposed to be the Republican ideal-type for the young, the contrast with Clint Eastwood (who can snark on the President, use craziness as an excuse to insinuate what he wants, and keep the young guy waiting until he’s done) was for the elderly.  This scheduling was good stagecraft.

10:19 pm: “Let me be clear: Our problem with President Obama is not that he’s a bad person.  By all accounts he’s a good husband, a good father–due to a lot of practice, a better golfer…Our problem with President Obama is not that he’s a bad person, it’s that he’s a bad President.”  Senator Rubio is 1 of the Tea Partiers who really could help the Republican Party with its image problem.  I said I wanted to see a Republican Party that stood on principle (even if I didn’t share those principles) rather than just launch nasty attacks against individuals.  “The Party” cannot prevent nasty invective like Primary debate-goers applauding Texas’ execution record or Rush Limbaugh calling a Georgetown University student a “slut,” but they can take the opportunity posed by a stage like this to set a good example.  They have made use of the opportunity, particularly with some of the darlings of the right.  This was a good tact, and I’ve wanted to see it for years.

10:14 pm: Clint Eastwood is a true individualist.  He kept Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) waiting for 9 minutes.  Clint managed to appeal to Clint Eastwood fans and senior citizens–both honestly–but in the end he equivocated rather than laid-out serious charges of disappointment against the President.  If that was all that Clint had, the Republican Party really is stuck with ideological charges against President Obama this fall.

10:08 pm: Oooh, it’s a crazy-old-man bit, I get it.  Clint is a professional retiree, being brow-beaten by his reptilian inner monologue.

10:04 pm: Clint just said that “Conservative people, in the nature of it, keep it close to the vest, and don’t go…hot-doggin’ it.”  I think Conservatives have done a great job of hot-doggin’ it, especially for the past 3 1/2 years.  Maybe Clint hasn’t talked to many of his fellow-Conservatives lately.

10:03 pm: I’m thinking, “Clint…Eastwood…”

10:03 pm: Clint Eastwood.

10:00 pm: A video about Governor Romney features a clip of Governor Romney on the campaign stump telling a crowd that he inherited a $3 billion budget deficit as Governor of Massachusetts.  Governor Romney’s record of fiscal parsimony in “Liberal Massachusetts” is well-known; what isn’t well-known is that Massachusetts had had Republican Governors for the 12 years preceding Romney’s administration of the Commonwealth.

9:46 pm: “USA! USA! USA!”  The speeches applauding Governor Romney’s salvaging of the 2002 Winter Olympics have heart, but all of Governor Romney’s real turnaround stories revolve around businesses.  The United States of America isn’t a business, it’s a large and complex country.  In fairness, Governor Romney had a lot more success as a businessman than George W. Bush did.  But this doesn’t change the fact that movers and shakers in business haven’t worked their way into the White House.

9:37 pm:  “USA! USA! USA!”  The nest Convention speaker puts a lid on the patriotic fervor.  We have a Convention schedule to stick to, you know.  The speaker–Mike Eruzione, of the 1980 US Men’s Hockey Team–speaks favorably of Governor Romney’s administration of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Correction: Our government boycotted the Summer Olympics, not the Winter Olympics which were held the same year.  Non-rhetorical question about the seeming strange omission from the Convention speaker’s speech withdrawn.

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