Mitt Romney gave a speech on Tuesday for which he is being widely praised as “having gone on offense,” and “sounding passionate,” and while I am happy to see that he has taken a slightly more aggressive stance, almost leaving one with the impression that he might have some desire to win after all, ladies and gentlemen, it’s one brief stump speech. Governor Romney has been on the campaign trail pursuing the Presidency longer than most kindergartners have been alive. One would hope that in such an expanse of time, he’s had a few moments to brush up on his form, and to actually refine his message a bit. More than anything, one would hope that somehow, over that period, he’s managed to conceive of some core values that consist of more than making deals, or seeking consensus. Even if he has, before you toss your undergarments on the stage in a frenzy of adulation, I hope you’ll be a bit more reserved in asking: Is this an anomaly or a the beginning of a trend? If it is a new trend, you must ask yourself one question more: Is it sincere? Does he mean it?
If he says it now, will he carry it out later? I apologize to the “hope brigades” who will casually give themselves over out of desperation to be rid of Obama, but it’s going to take a good deal more than one decent speech to move me. It might be argued with some justification that cynicism is prohibiting me from viewing this one speech as some watershed event in the evolution of candidate Romney, but call it what you will, my skepticism is not entirely or even slightly unfounded in light of the evidence. On the one hand, we have the long record of Governor Romney’s public statements over decades, but on the other, we have less than thirty minutes in a stump speech following broad-based criticisms of the candidate’s tepid approach to campaigning. Can you tell yourself without flinching, never mind me, that this is now the real Mitt Romney? Put another way, I’m a great believer in Ockham’s Razor.
Given any number of plausible explanations, the simpler is more apt to be correct. In this case, the three explanations for Romney’s speech on Tuesday must be that either he has really been a conservative all along, who is only now finding his voice despite years of opportunity, that he has undergone a real and abiding transformation in his philosophy, or that political expediency and the desire to unite the party behind him under severe recent criticism has forced him to go out on the ledge a bit. While all of these are plausible explanations, I hope you’ll agree with me that the last is the simplest, because boiled down to its essence, it consists only of something politicians have done expertly for the entirety of human history: He faked it.
I can already hear the rumblings from off in back, from those who will argue that I am being unduly harsh, but I must ask of those who would clobber me for my assessment: In the last four years, I have never heard anybody ask whether in her numerous speeches, Sarah Palin had been passionate or sincere. I have never seen the GOP so breathlessly exuberant over such a short speech. The comparisons to Ronald Reagan are absurd, but that hasn’t stopped anybody in the establishment from beginning to whisper them. All this over a few minutes in a speech, and yet you would think he had delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Let us set aside the questions about his sincerity, and see what he said that had been so extraordinary. After all, Michelle Malkin was all a’twitter. Mark Levin called it “superb.” Let’s see what the hubbub is all about, shall we?
From Irwin, PA:
That’s a very good speech indeed. It’s one, and it’s only one, but it was a good speech. Unfortunately, I’ve heard better, recently, and indeed, much of it seemed to have been repeated from Governor Palin’s speech at the AFP Patriots in the Park speech over the weekend. No, I’m not accusing Governor Romney of plagiarism, or anything silly like that. I’m simply pointing out that one could nearly view it as though he had a good example, test-marketed if you will, of what revs up a crowd on Saturday when Governor Palin spoke. What Republican candidate wouldn’t seek to emulate that appeal? As to the substance, he has reduced his list to just five major points, rather than a lengthy fifty-nine point economic plan that would take several hours to deliver in a speech. If he drops the bit about education, that would help more, since in fact, education really isn’t a Federal matter, although he seems to be dangling some notion of a voucher system without any details. Also, what’s with the “replace it” business with respect to Obamacare? I want to replace it with the law that existed the day before it was enacted. He mentions defense, which is great, but he also spent a bit of time talking about energy development, and that’s been a major area of interest for Governor Palin as well as every productive American for some time.
A good speech? Yes, it was good, but I think superlatives are a stretch. I also worry about his sincerity, but also his passion. At times, his enthusiasm seemed forced, but his best moments may have come as he discussed the crony capitalism that defines this current presidency. His critique of Obama’s remarks about not “doing it on [our] own” should resonate well, and indeed, when he said with an indignant tone: “We paid for those services,” he hit the nail on the head. In my view, he should have extended his remarks a bit on one related matter, in which he was explaining how all of those services (teachers, fireman, road crews) hadn’t built the businesses, he went on to make mention of the fact that furthering one’s education, Obama would say that you had used the roads to go to school. He acknowledged the truth of this, but he should also have noticed something else left unsaid in the President’s ridiculous remarks: If one person can use the roads to go to school, upgrading their education, what is the excuse for all those who haven’t?
If some of us are paying for all of these services that Obama says are so critical to our collective success, why is it that more are not successful? I think Romney should work that in, because it makes a fine point of differentiation. After all, if schools, and fireman, and road projects benefit us all, why is it that only the successful should be thankful for them? If that’s all that makes the difference between success and failure, we should have three-hundred-million billionaires by now. Clearly, this proves the point: It’s not the road and bridges, the firemen, or the school teachers that make some successful while others are not. It is the spark of individual achievement, and it is best expressed in the notions of liberty that to his credit, Mitt Romney addressed.
While I’m not blown away as are some others by this speech, in part for its shortfalls, but also in part because I’m not altogether convinced he’ll follow through, I nevertheless note that many more will be willing to listen again, to see if he sharpens his message or heads back into Milquetoast territory. I’m afraid that if he does the latter, you can prepare for a second term of Barack Obama, because to defeat him, Romney will need to attack his record, his philosophy, and his contradictory ideas, all without exposing his own. That’s a tall order, but this speech was one positive baby-step in that direction. Let’s hope he believes it. I’m withholding judgment pending more evidence.