Day 1 (uh-- sorta) of the 2012 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
Well... I was wrong about this particular Telethon of a National Convention not having a "tote board"!
For there is (and will be, throughout the Convention's proceedings) a display of both the U.S. National Debt and said National Debt since the start of the Convention: a so-called "Debt Clock". (One suspects that- along with making sure the Convention adhered to its own Call by the Republican Party US itself by first convening at precisely 2 o'clock Eastern Daylight Time [1800 GMT] on Monday 27 August 2012 [come hell... or at least heavy rain... and high water, thanks to Tropical Storm-becoming Hurricane- 'Isaac' churning up the waters of the Gulf of Mexico not all that far west of where the Convention is being held]- the Convention simply had to start this "debt clock" at the same time so that the numbers that almost certainly will be cited come the Convention's adjournment this coming Thursday evening match up with what's on-screen).
Precision there was (that is: when it came to the Convention's formal start): at exactly 2:00 PM local time, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus appeared on the dais set up inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum to a fair number of people on the Convention floor and duly "proclaim"ed the 40th Republican National Convention "in session and called to order", banging his gavel several times as if to make this even more emphatic. Then, almost as quickly (if not also precisely), Preibus- citing one of the rules of the United States House of Representatives (which National Conventions have traditionally utilized)- declared said Convention "in recess, subject to the call of the Chair" (a recess which, as we already know, will end the next day- Tuesday 28 August- at 2 PM Eastern Time US).
Although now, technically, in recess, Preibus pointed out the "debt clock"s, in particular the "since the Convention's start" one (which had, indeed, first started only as he first brought down his gavel), which- or so Preibus opined- would well illustrate "the unprecedented fiscal recklessness of the Obama Administration". Preibus next praised the many First Responders charged with securing the Convention itself as well as dealing with Tropical Cyclone 'Isaac' (not just there in Tampa, Florida but also elsewhere along the Gulf Coast- places more likely in the ultimate path of the storm as it would make landfall in a day or so) and asked the assembled to pause for a moment to reflect on their work.
Then, the Rev. Dr. Russell Levenson of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas came forward to offer an opening prayer (which was, technically, not an Invocation as, again, the Convention was already in Recess) which was followed by a short film of typical American scenes voiced over by the Republican nominee-presumptive, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney himself (evidently culled from at least one "stump speech" of Romney's in which Romney concluded by saying I'm Mitt Romney, I believe in America and I'm running for President of the United States!)
And, with that, Day 1 (or, rather, "Day 1A" I suppose) of the 2012 Republican National Convention ended.
No matter, for I now have more time to expound further upon that which I had written in my piece first posted here on The Green Papers the morning of Monday 27 August 2012: With my having cited, in that piece, Herbert Agar's dictum- in the Preface to the Second Edition of his The Price of Union- that "a successful American political party... should never allow [itself] to feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked", I can actually well illustrate my own view of what Agar was writing about merely with what took place in this very short pro forma opening session of this Convention.
A "National Debt Clock" (including a "real time" count of said National Debt since the Convention was gaveled into order by RNC Chairman Preibus [though in reality but an estimate, albeit based on assumptions as to the National Debt's growth over time based on its (also somewhat estimated) previous, recent growth]) is all fine and good for a Party trying its utmost to depict the incumbent Administration as, indeed, so mistaken (in this case, on matters involving the Federal Budget)-- even so strongly referring to the increase in National Debt so indicated by such a device as "unprecedented fiscal recklessness" (as Preibus himself did) is not all that untoward (although most Democrats would, of course, beg to differ and, in addition, are rather quick to point out such "fiscal recklessness" on the part of both past Republican Administrations as well as past- if not also present- Republican Congresses).
The problem for Governor Romney going forward I discussed in my Commentary immediately previous to this one is inherent in that one phrase of his towards the end of that short film presentation bringing to a close this whole shortened Convention day-- I believe in America.
There is, of course, nothing at all wrong with an American so declaiming "I believe in America"- whether ordinary "Man in the Street" or "Woman Down on the Farm" or someone, like Mitt Romney himself, seeking the Highest Office in the Nation...
hell, *I* Richard Berg-Andersson, believe in America! (Although, in the course of the now-nearly 13 years The Green Papers has been available via the Internet, there have been more than a few who have contacted me, begging to [at times, even strongly] differ with my having so stated [you out there know who you are! ;-)])
There are, however, many different gradations within what is implied by said statement uttered by a candidate for public office, especially if that office is that of President of the United States of America: from "and, if you believe in the America I believe in, then please vote for me" to "if you believe in America as *I* do, vote for me because those other guys sure don't believe in America!"...
and what the average American voter, Romney supporter or no, hears when Romney himself says "I believe in America"- one of the above implications or the other, or even something in between- is ever in the ear of the beholder.
Governor Romney is about to become the titular leader, the standard-bearer going into this 2012 General Election campaign, of a Party which has many different ears beholding many different gradations of just such a thing and he has to well balance these competing interpretations as he seeks to put forward his own vision of what both he and his Party can bring to bear in dealing with the many issues of the day Americans will have to consider as they go to the polls. And Romney bears this burden more so than President Obama and the Democrats because 1. he's the challenger (and it is ever the challenger to an incumbent that has to well explain why the incumbent needs to be supplanted in any event) and 2. his Party has become, almost by default, the inheritor of a long tradition of Populist Conservatism- represented in the past by such presidential candidates as, more than a century ago, Democrat William Jennings Bryan and, a little less than a half-century ago now, Republican Barry Goldwater (both cited by Agar, in fact, as justification for his dictum already cited above): a tradition that has all too often been tempted to go the "not just wrong, but evil" route in Politics.
Romney, on the other hand, has- for instance- a big problem with women voters, and not just those who already trend liberal in general or Democratic in particular in their voting behavior (for there are Republican women-- yes, Republican women!-- I know personally [and who have not much patience with Populist Conservatives] who are not all that enamored of Romney [many of these are just as likely to vote for President Obama, as for Romney, come November] and who have not been at all re-assured by his choosing of Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, largely because of many of the issues raised in the course of last week's controversy over the comments of Congressman Todd Akin, as cited in my Commentary immediately previous to this one): calling out Republican women who might feel thusly, at worst "traitors to the cause" or, at best, just another bunch of R I N Os (Republicans In Name Only) is not going to help the GOP standard-bearer gain, and hold, the political Center! Thus, it certainly will be most interesting to see how much what Mrs. Romney- now scheduled to speak, as I type this, late Tuesday evening leading into New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Keynote Address- has to say might help her husband in this very regard.
And, speaking of my own State's Chief Executive, Governor Christie himself has- by all accounts- "toned it down" at the behest of the Romney/Ryan campaign. Normally feisty (for positive effect: as when- just about a year ago now as I type this- he told "idiots" to "get the hell off the beach" as Hurricane 'Irene' chugged up the East Coast [and no rational Jerseyan- regardless of political affiliation or ideology- could all that much have disagreed!]) but also, at times, at least somewhat bombastic (as when calling the leadership of his State's Legislature- controlled by the other Party- "asinine" or getting into a shouting match on a Jersey Shore boardwalk), Christie is going to have to "dial it back"- at least a bit- in his Keynote Address Tuesday night.
But will so "dialing it back" be to Christie's own advantage? For keynote Speeches can put one on that old "road map" of 'Presidential Timber' (just ask President Obama himself!) but there are more than a few within the Republican Party in general- as well as on this Convention's floor itself- who so want to "stick it" to Obama, Vice President Biden, former House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats in general and, indeed, expect at least many- if not most- of the speakers up on this Convention's dais (Christie included) to do the "sticking" for them: it is all of a piece with the difference between merely scoring the touchdown and handing the ball to the ref and violently spiking the ball after crossing the goal line and hurling the ball far into the stands after celebrating the TD in dance form with one's teammates.
Yet, in the end, ideological "taunting" and political "trash talk" will not, alone, win the White House for Romney (any more than such- on the Democrats' part- will keep the White House doorkeys in Obama's coat pocket after next January).
Then there is the little matter of Congressman Ron Paul (as well as those who still so strongly support him, whether delegates on the floor of the Convention itself or left outside the Convention Hall):
for it certainly doesn't much help matters that Congressman Paul has, so recently, publicly stated he doesn't "fully endorse" the GOP nominee-presumptive (as we still have to call Governor Romney, until the Roll Call of the States re: Presidential Nomination- now scheduled for Tuesday afternoon) and, further, held a rally of his own this past Sunday evening at the nearby University of South Florida!
No, I don't expect pro-Paul voters still not all that happy with Romney to vote for Obama in November-- and I think any General Election "bleed-off" of Paulites towards either Constitution Party nominee (and former Virginia Congressman) Virgil Goode or Libertarian Party candidate (and former New Mexico Governor) Gary Johnson would be altogether insignificant as regards such a thing potentially hurting Romney's chances to gain the White House--- but, still, it doesn't look all that good to have the "sore loser" presidential contender so hanging around the site of your own Convention in this manner-- that is: very like a ghost!
So it is now all down to these three days of actual Convention activity-- three days in which the Republican Party US in Convention assembled can attempt to combine these disparate elements making up said Party into a unity well primed to, efficiently as well as effectively, work for Governor Romney's election as President over the ensuing two months or so...
it remains to be seen if this, in fact, can be done in only three days: it also remains to be seen if what comes out of this Convention, once it has concluded this coming Thursday evening, is Agar's "true federation" of "many voices", that "true accommodator of all the interests of a continent"... or are the Republicans only going to end up ceding that very possibility to the Democrats just gathering in North Carolina while Republican delegates make their way home from Florida over Labor Day weekend?