The GOP convention: Did Romney and Ryan make the case?

Mitt Romney had one critical mission going into last week’s Republican National Convention.

Mitt Romney had one critical mission going into last week’s Republican National Convention, said in an editorial. He had to win over the independent voters who supported Obama in 2008 but feel let down by the president’s performance. By that measure, “Romney did a fine job.” The Republican presidential nominee critiqued the president without rancor, instead speaking to the keen sense of disappointment felt by many Americans. “You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president,” he said of Obama, “when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.” That line was terrific, and so was the effort to spotlight Romney’s warmth, faith, and generosity, said Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. Romney’s friends had people crying with their stories of how he came to the aid of fellow Mormons facing illness, addiction, and poverty. When it was Paul Ryan’s turn at the podium, the dynamic young running mate made Obama “look tired and old,” as he painted a vivid image of jobless 20-somethings “staring up at fading Obama posters” in their childhood bedrooms. All in all, the GOP convention was “an indictment of the way things are, and a declaration of hope.”

It seemed more like a “colossal hoax” to me, said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. Romney and Ryan proved only that “they care deeply about making us think they care deeply.” Despite their vague, dewy-eyed rhetoric, their policy agenda is little more than an Ayn Rand–like “worship of the wealthy,” with massive tax cuts for millionaires and corporations, and massive reductions in spending on Medicaid, food stamps, and other safety-net programs for society’s losers. No wonder Romney and Ryan steered clear of any specific policy proposals, evidently figuring “a Hail Mary pass of artifice was better than their authentic, ruthless worldview.” Ryan, in fact, may have set a new world record for deception, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post.He blamed President Obama for the closure of a GM plant in his constituency of Janesville, Wis.—even though the plant closed before Obama even took office. He chastised Obama for failing to embrace the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, even though Ryan voted against the same recommendations as a member of the commission. When media fact-checkers called Ryan out on his mendacity, the Romney campaign said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” You don’t say.

Paul Ryan told no lies, said Stephen F. Hayes in He didn’t mention that he sat on the Simpson-Bowles commission—but it was Obama’s commission, and the president’s failure to support it is more telling. And Ryan didn’t claim that Obama was responsible for closing the GM plant; he criticized him “for failing to do what he suggested he’d do: save it.” It’s funny how these “self-described ‘fact-checkers’” frantically nitpick every Republican claim, but happily ignore the “extraordinary contradictions and inconsistencies from the Obama campaign.”

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The Obama campaign may sometimes take liberties with facts, said John Avlon in, but it’s the Republicans who’ve lost all touch with reality. Who else but the GOP would put 82-year-old actor Clint Eastwood on stage to hold a jaw-dropping debate with an imaginary Obama in an empty chair? As some Romney staffers visibly cringed, the rambling Eastwood even pretended his Obama was telling Romney to “go f--- himself.” As one Twitter pundit put it, “This is a perfect representation of the campaign: An old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.” Face it: “The GOP convention was a bust,” said Steve Kornacki in A Gallup poll found little or no “bump” in Romney’s popularity, with just 38 percent of respondents rating Romney’s speech positively.

Maybe that’s because he failed to tell voters what he stands for, said The Wall Street Journal. Romney “repaired an image battered by Obama attack ads,” but he played it too safe by studiously avoiding all talk of his economic policy agenda. That agenda “is brimming with ideas” on how to stimulate growth and create widespread prosperity, including reforming the tax code, shrinking government, and unleashing the free market. The failure to make the case for pro-growth policies lets Democrats define the Romney-Ryan agenda themselves, inaccurately, as an attack on the middle class. If Romney and Ryan won’t aggressively make the case for what they believe in, “they will give Obama an opening to win an election he should lose.”

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