Day’s End and Night Watch

Well, you can read my impressionistic Live Blog of tonight’s Republican Convention events, but the bottom line is that convention organizers wasted the non-super-prime-times speeches on tired pink meat appeals to the delegates (who didn’t much like them either), then did what they had to do with Ann Romney’s ode to her husband’s loving fanaticism about success, and then Chris Christie’s fiery address about Truth-Telling-and-Tough-Love that was more about himself–and arguably Veep candidate Paul Ryan, whom he mentioned maybe twice–than about Romney.

It was another testament to the fact that Team Romney is determined to present a message that excites the GOP base while appealing to a very specific sliver of swing voters–people who don’t like either candidate but are open to highly emotional appeals aimed at criticizing elites. Christie wants these unhappy people to focus on entitled public-sector unions and anyone who would “pander” by promising to preserve the New Deal/Great Society policy legacy. There’s a large disconnect, of course, since the Romney/Ryan campaign is brazenly promising to defend Medicare recipients from Obama’s horrific desire to give health insurance to, and preserve basic social safety net protections for, those people. But Christie is signalling to “the base” his party’s willingness to touch “third rails,” and expressing a sort of enraged sense of “honesty” to swing voters more resentful towards those people and unions and public employees than concerned about their own reliance on the public sector.

It’s a narrow plank the Republicans are walking so far, but it’s the hand they’ve dealt to themselves.

On a technical level, I’d have to say those speeches that discarded the podium were more effective than those that didn’t. With the exception of the “keynotes,” the speechwriting was pretty bad. But the convention managers don’t really care what’s said and done before Super-Prime-Time.

I’ll be back for more convention fun tomorrow.


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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.