Tuesday evening’s speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa were solid and periodically inspiring. Ann Romney spoke about her husband and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the keynote.
Perhaps the most affecting moment came when Ann Romney looked point-blank into the camera and said, ‘One thing I can tell you: this man will not fail.’ Whatever else may or may not be true, I have zero problem doubting the sincerity of her belief. Of course, failure and success are relative and the Presidency is surely one of the most complex jobs on the planet. She acknowledged that no one can possibly know what challenges lay in store. But Mitt Romney has been highly successful in most endeavors he’s undertaken and is nothing if not an effective manager – something the country sorely needs.
The ‘he will not fail’ statement was also a subtle and effective refutation of the Obama team’s ridiculous effort to turn Romney’s success into a negative. In that vein, Ann Romney’s statement “This is the genius of America – dreams fulfilled help others launch new dreams” reminded listeners of the great truth that drives the economic engine that has helped more people attain prosperity than any system in human history. Dreams and effort create more dreams and effort, and on and on. It is the old “Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” truth, except one might even add, “And he may create a business teaching others to fish, and one of his students may build a chain of fish restaurants!” It may well be the best and most central of Republican ideals and she expressed it well.
During the first half of Ann Romney’s speech, she focused on the idea that what matters is ‘love.’ Then, in what seemed a bit of a disjointed contrast, Chris Christie delivered a long and rather amusing speech about, among other things, his late mother’s belief that it is better to be respected than loved (but respect can lead to lasting love and not the other way around, if there’s no respect there to begin with). So is the takeaway that it’s better to be loved than respected or the other way around? Maybe I’m being too literal. Despite a little clumsiness in the coordination between the two speeches, the overall point seemed to be that all the love for Obama was, and is, not based by and large on notable achievements or success but is, like a relationship built on physical attraction alone, insubstantial.
Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, spoke about her immigrant parents’ efforts to build a business, stating “not one day was easy” and adding “with all due respect to President Obama, don’t tell me my parents didn’t build their business” – a reference to a speech in which the President said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.”