By James M. Perry
Mitt Romney wasn't as warm and fuzzy in his acceptance speech last night as some of his supporters had hoped but he was probably as good as he'll ever be.
He challenged American voters to put aside their warm and fuzzy feelings for President Obama and vote for him. "You know," Romney said, "there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him." In introducing him, Sen. Mario Rubio of Florida may have put it squarely. Obama, Rubio said, is a good husband and a good father and even, at times, a pretty good golfer. "He's not a bad person. Our problem is he's a bad president."
He did what he could to sketch in his past. "We were Mormons," he said at one point in his 39-minute speech. And so they were. They were leaders in the early church and Romney was once a bishop. One of Mitt Romney's ancestors had six wives and 22 children, but he didn't make any serious effort to explain to millions of evangelical Christians who aren't entirely certain Mormons are Christians how Mormon beliefs have evolved over the years.
He talked about how he idolized his mother and father. His father, George W. Romney, gave us those little Rambler automobiles and went on to become a moderate and progressive governor (of Michigan) who believed the GOP should be a big tent open to everyone. I don't suppose anyone would argue the son is that kind of Republican today.
He actually made a pretty good joke about his experience at Bain Capital. Early on, he said, he and his partners considered investing the money held in the Mormon church's pension fund, but they demurred, Romney said he worried they'd lose the church's money and go to hell. The company, he said, had no such trouble handling pension money for the Episcopal Church.
While admitting Bain sometimes didn't succeed, he defended the company's record. "In America," he said, "we celebrate success. We don't apologize for success."
He took a fairly hard line on foreign policy, insisting, for example, that the Obama administrration had "thrown Israel under the bus." He challenged Russia's leaders and said we have failed to do anything about Iran's nuclear threat.
Everything went pretty much on schedule, except, of course, for the appearance on stage of Clint Eastwood, the Hollywood actor and director. I have been to a lot of conventions and I have never seen such a bizarre performance. He came on stage with an empty chair, in which an invisible Barack Obama was sitting. Twice, according to Eastwood, the invisible Obama suggested to Eastwood that he and Romney do something impossible to themselves. The crowd didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
At one point Romney saluted his wife. He asked the crowd if they didn't agree, after hearing Mrs. Romney's speech, that she could have been anything she wanted to be. Instead, of course, she stayed home and reared their six boys. I'm not sure what all those women job holders and politicians in their red dresses and suits who paraded to the podium this week would have thought of that. Most of those women, it seemed to me, did a better job than that parade of male governors and senators in their dark suits, white shirts, and conservative ties. The women were more natural, more relaxed, more comfortable.
I believe the day is fast approaching when one (or maybe) both of these great American political parties nominates a woman to run for President. It would be unlikely, but no longer implausible, for the Republicans to nominate Condoleeza Rice in in 2016 while the Democrats were nominating Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It's time. Bring it on.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, will be contributing regular observations for post-gazette.com during the two political conventions. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.
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