RNC 2012: A Grown-Up Convention for Grown-Up Times

After a convention short on frivolity and long on steely resolve, the Republican Party leaves Tampa with renewed focus on fixing America's problems

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Balloons drop at the end of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's address at the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Aug. 30, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Practical. Serious. Ready to make the tough decisions. Focused on solutions. Those are not words and phrases one would normally associate with the hype and hoopla of a national political convention. Yet even as the balloons came down, filling the hall with final moments of frivolity and fun, the unmistakable takeaway from Tampa was that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are ready to do the serious work of getting America back on track.

The opening parade of governors made the strong case, summed up by Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, that “conservative fiscal policies are working and so are more Americans in states with Republican governors.” Then, Ann Romney reminded us: “Mitt Romney was not handed success; he built it.” And Governor Chris Christie’s keynote was all about facing hard truths and getting the job done: “Real leaders don’t follow polls; real leaders change polls.”

(MORE: Joe Klein: Will Romney’s Speech Change the Campaign’s Tone?)

The message to an anxious, unsettled, pessimistic country was a realistic and optimistic one, summed up simply by Paul Ryan: “We can do this.”

Along the way, Republicans delivered an indictment of President Obama that was as devastating as it was deft. Importantly, the criticisms conveyed just the right tone: disappointment rather than anger. Speaker after speaker essentially said Barack Obama may have inspired you, but he hasn’t delivered for you. The sentiment was captured perfectly in Paul Ryan’s most memorable line, a line I heard repeated in offices across my hometown, the college town of Austin, Texas, the next day: “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

(MORE: Romney Opens Up, But Not Completely)

And in the perfect set-up to the Democrats gathering next week, Republicans turned the President’s best weapon — his lofty rhetoric — against him: “This time, instead of moving oceans and healing planets, let’s get our bills in order and pay down the debt so we control our own future.” said former Congressman Artur Davis. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family,” said Mitt Romney.

Republicans leave Tampa enthusiastic and optimistic that we can win. The tone of the convention should help our party’s appeal to women. Both Ryan and Romney paid respectful tribute to the important impact their mothers had on their lives. Ann Romney spoke powerfully about a loving husband and father who, above all, is a good, decent and humble man: “Mitt Romney doesn’t like to talk about how he’s helped others. He sees it as a privilege, not a talking point.” Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice delivered a powerful speech that was both intelligent and visionary: “We cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind.” The convention was a great showcase for an impressive new generation of leaders, from New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

(MORE: In the Line of Fire: Clint Eastwood’s Train Wreck)

The one “off” note of the convention was the awkward and uncomfortable spectacle of Clint Eastwood conversing with an empty chair. It didn’t work, but it doesn’t matter. The lasting impression of this convention was that our nominees are serious, substantive, forward-looking men, ready to face and fix our nation’s many problems. It’s a good message — you might say business-like — and after all the hype and hyper-partisanship of the Obama years, just the grown-up message America needs to hear.

MORE: Complete Coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention
MORE: Clint vs. Chair: The Best Tweets about Eastwood’s RNC Speech

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Joshua
Joshua

Well the convention was definitely serious about screwing over members of their own party and making a power grab. Makes you wonder how "serious" they will be if elected. 

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

"When Paul Ryan talks about public policy, he says things that aren't true. When Paul Ryan talks about President Obama's record, he says things that aren't true. And when Paul Ryan talks about himself, he says things that aren't true."

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

R/R made clear at the RNC that they envision an America where the only safety net for the weak, the poor and the disabled is provided by private charities and where the primary motive for Americans is to accumulate wealth with no regard for our climate, for the health and education of our children or for the rest of the world.

In other words, there were no grown-ups at the RNC.

shootingstar
shootingstar

It may not have worked for some of the younger generations, but Eastwood's performance was instantly "got" by those who remember Jimmy Stewart with Harvey, the invisible rabbit, Peter Faulk as the seemingly bumbling trench-coast detective and many others who used real acting skills to paint the message.  It's a shame it was obviously too sophisticated for some, but now that it's been seen millions of times via UTube, and people are looking for the "message"...it will be one of the more memorable parts of Thursday night.  Look for all the EMPTY CHAIRS on lawns throughout the country, tomorrow....we'll have one out!

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I can only hope that the GOP has, indeed, decided to grow up.

You see, grown-ups understand that elections matter and if the other guys win, then they have earned the right to govern, without the opposition pitching a hissy and throwing up every procedural block they can think of.

Grown-ups realize that the other party, while they may have different ideas, represents a significant percentage of the American people and should be respected, even when you disagree with their ideas.

Grown-ups know that compromise is the only way democracy works, which means that sometimes you have to accept that you won't get everything you want, but then neither will the other folks.  

Grown-ups put the interests of the American people ahead of winning the next election.  

Grown-ups embrace the concept of a loyal opposition.

I really hope Ms. Hughes is right.  Our country has some pretty serious grown-up problems that will only be solved by grown-up statesmen.

Fredddd
Fredddd

You're wrong Hughes.  The Eastwood skit, worked perfectly!

MikeyG
MikeyG

Some facts are:

We are 16 Trillion int he hole and heading to path to Greece where their will be riots and 20% unemployment if we don't get our fiscal house in order...

The President has accumulated more debt than any other president, including George W Bush who was definitely not a fiscal conservative...

Fact is that unemployment has been over 8% for some 40+ months and GDP growth is anemic...

The President puts forward a budget and does not get one Democratic vote as it was so absurd fiscally...

Unless we get one party rule that is ready to deal with these issues, we all need to get our big boy pants on and compromise on these issues, or guess what???

You will probably lose your job...

I think people have no clue what a debt crisis is or what it will feel like...

Soiled Dailey
Soiled Dailey

I see that the least insightful and highly deceitful comments are also the most popular comments.  I guess my naivete regarding the caliber of TIME readers shows.  Or, maybe it's just Obamabots' attempts at influencing public opinion falling short. 

RebeccaH
RebeccaH

I disagree that Eastwood's performance with the empty chair didn't work.  It did work, and spectacularly.  I admit, at its beginning, probably like most of the audience, I thought, "Uh oh."  By the end of it, I was laughing out loud and doing a thumbs up.  

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I thought Mr. Eastwood's skit was amusing, although I wouldn't book him at the Improv.

What impressed me more was that, even though he was poking fun at the president, he remained respectful throughout.  He referred to him as "President Obama" and "Mr. Obama" and was never personally insulting to the man nor contemptuous of his office.

He showed that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable - a valuable lesson often lost on many Internet posters of both political parties.

Wmn04Ken07
Wmn04Ken07

I agree. It worked on many levels. After people have had time to replay what they saw and heard, they will get it. He hit truth after truth and cleverly sliced and diced Obama.

Matthew Bryant
Matthew Bryant

I would've thought the on/off of the convention would've been the replacement of Maine delegates, complete disregard of nay votes (that were clearly overwhelming the aye votes at times), and the refusal to allow Ron Paul to speak even though according to the rules of the Republican party he had enough states backing him to be a candidate.  It was a sham and a complete disregard for about 10-15% of their own party.  If you had gone to the convention there's no way you could've missed this.  It's also all over Youtube and news sites, so even if you were just watching from home it's amazing that you didn't know about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Suffice to say, it was a very poor repression of state rights and going forward will allow a presidential nominee to refuse state delegates and replace them with others of their choosing (Romney basically altered the vote even though there was no sensical reason for doing so other than stop Ron Paul from speaking at the convention).  It's petty and will definitely come back to the haunt the republican party aside from the votes that they've undoubtedly lost from Ron Paul supporters now who want to have nothing to do with the republican party.  They tried to avoid public embarrassment and ended up making it much worse in the process.  Not surprising.  If your party has rules, maybe you should follow them.  The RNC isn't just for nominating Romney.  It's also for voting on other issues within the republican party.  Stripping a state of it's legally elected delegates is denying that state the right to choose it's own representatives.  In conclusion, very bad mojo for the GOP.

shootingstar
shootingstar

They said on the news that Ron Paul did not, in fact, have enough delegates to be allowed to speak (automatically)...check your facts on the rules.  I doubt very much if your 10-15% figures are correct.

Firozali A.Mulla
Firozali A.Mulla

Saturday, 01 September

2012Some good news with but, but, U.S. stocks rose on Friday after

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke,

expressing "grave concern" for the stagnating U.S. job market, said

the central bank was prepared to take further steps to

strengthen the economy if necessary. Though Bernanke, speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, dashed some hopes for

a signal of quick action, his comments bolstered bets that the central bank was

closer to providing more stimulus for an economy that is close to stalling.  WYOMING:

Backing bond market intervention by the European Central Bank, the OECD

said on Friday that Europe must seize a "window of opportunity"

offered by the relative recent calm of financial markets  to tackle the simmering euro zone debt crisis. "I

think it is now time that the European authorities push strongly toward a

solution," said Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of the Paris-based

Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD represents a respected

outside voice on how best to tackle the 2-year crisis, and his comments come

just days before the ECB meets to weigh controversial bond market purchases.  I thank you Firozali A.Mulla

DBA

Firozali A.Mulla
Firozali A.Mulla

The iron man leader will buy 600 new warplanes, 400

ballistic missiles and an entire submarine fleet over the next ten years. In a

reference to the massive arms drive carried out by Stalin during his reign of

terror before World War Two, Putin told top security ministers: “We must

modernise our defence industry as comprehensively as it was done in the ’30s.” Putin

made it clear he was tired of Western jibes about Russia’s military capability.

which has slipped since the Cold War. The ex-KGB agent — who revels in his

macho image — laid into his defence chiefs for failing to draw up plans to meet

his ambitious programme. He fumed: “I still have not received your proposals.

They are simply not there.” But he admitted that Russian arms manufacturers had

failed to keep pace in the past three decades — and they might need overseas

technology. He added: “Foreign partnership is possible.” I thank you Firozali

A.Mulla DBA

 

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

For sure, Ms. Hughes.  Words are cheap.  First, I noted the GOTP platform:  God, guns, gynecology, gays and greed.  Then I saw Mrs. Romney gush about her love for her husband and thought, isn't that special?  I watched Chris Christie waddle out and talk about himself and Paul Ryan lie.

The speech of a befuddled old man talking incoherently to a chair does matter, indeed, because I can't remember a word of Romney's speech.  Eastwood stole the show.

Oh, and I doubt the party holds any new appeal for women with its no exceptions, forced pregnancy platform.  Really?  If the mother's life is at stake, is there no sanctity to her life?

LibLoather
LibLoather

You didn't watch the Repub. Convention.  Your post is nothing but tired MSNBC talking points.  Maybe Chris Matthews will hire you as his pet parrot (oh wait! is "pet" a racist word?")

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

I watched it, cupcake.

I understand.  You're just saying what you're supposed to say.  Almost word for word.

Kim Ritter
Kim Ritter

Yes instead of  going  forward the "grown-ups" are going backwards even if they have to drag the country kicking and screaming with them

Stephen
Stephen

So, what you're saying is that the "serious work of getting America back on track" requires that one be dishonest? I believe the Fox News website summed it up best when it described Ryan's speech as one of the most dishonest (as in containing the most lies) of any in American political history. Perhaps what the Republican Party needs most is a Fact Checker.

Mike Arrh
Mike Arrh

Do you have an example of a lie? Because every single one that I've seen touted over and over the last few days - turned out to be true after all. Someone is lying, it's true.

proterozoic
proterozoic

Don't have to look deep. The main slogan of the whole convention is a lie about what Obama said in Roanoke.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Hackery. Hackery. Hackery. The Bush administration just keeps on giving.

apostasyusa
apostasyusa

Sounds like nonsense to me.  The Republican Party has become the Party of people who would take responsibility for nothing but credit for everything.

The Romney/Ryan plan is a joke wrapped in fake fiscal flag, but if all you care about is making elderly people vote against their own interests, then all you need to proliferate falsehoods and confusion.

I think there is a reason the Republican Party cannot find a good candidate for president. No intelligent, moral person can stand in front of the world and say the ridiculous things needed to obtain the support of the radical and confused wing of today’s Republican base of voters.

It’s like Mark Twain wrote, “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

No it’s not. Romney is going to have to give something in this election and he just doesn’t seem to be willing to concede anything.

Oh and by the way, tax cuts for the rich don’t create jobs. Look at the Romney tax proposals. Romney wants to give himself a tax break while raising taxes on the middle class. It’s all there right in front of us.

Well it’s the only thing Romney can talk about seeing that his 14 years at Bain (off shoring of US labor force) and 4 years as Massachusetts governor (Obamacare) are negative talking points.

Here’s Romney’s pitch to the voters, “I am a tax dodging, draft dodging, stiff, boring corporate puppet. I have been running for President since 1994, America. I am owed this.”

Voters see an empty suit, because that’s exactly what he is.

Barrack Obama isn't perfect, but he is a thousand times the man Romney will ever be. This time around, Obama and Democrats get my vote, the choice is simple.For the love of country and all people; register to vote and vote as much as you can!

shootingstar
shootingstar

Comnpare the bright, diverse up and coming stars in the Republican party to what will be feature at the Democratic convention next week and you state the GOP can't find good candidates?  Have fun watching all the wackos next week...and then there's anemic-looking Clinton, walking zombie Reig and "can you pull it any tighter" Pelos, not to mention "Plugs"i who are the faces of the current adminstration.  Yes, they are really inspiring.

Kim Ritter
Kim Ritter

Yes, but what a shame that the only diversity was on the stage and not in the audience. All I saw was a sea of lily white

LibLoather
LibLoather

Sorry that the Repub. Convention was such a let-down for you.  Too many adults with sound ideas with the country's future in mind.  But not to worry: I'm sure the dancing v*ginas and rabid feminists screaming for free birth control is right up your alley (no pun intended).  After all, what else can the Dems. coherently talk about?