Day’s End and Night Watch

So the Republican National Convention is finally in the books, and the last night probably did a lot to cool the ardor and anger of those who thought Paul Ryan’s speech might have a significant impact on the campaign.

Convention organizers clearly outfoxed themselves with their gimmick of serving up Clint Eastwood as the “surprise speaker” at the very beginning of broadcast network coverage. Americans tuning in to see what Mitt had to offer instead gazed in awe at a peculiar performance full of rambling, strange jokes, implied obscenities, and of course, a debate with an invisible Barack Obama. Marco Rubio’s workmanlike performance calmed things down, and then Mitt Romney delivered a speech that appeared so designed to “humanize” him that if failed to make much of a case for his candidacy, aside from a few shots at Obama that have been part of his stump speech for many months. Indeed, the speech was so quotidian that you could only count a few lies.

As for how the whole show came across: we’ll probably see some snap polls tomorrow, but since the most memorable moments (other than Clint!) involved Paul Ryan’s pretense that the GOP is fighting to protect Medicare, it may have served to blunt Democratic criticisms but might not have moved swing voters. Ryan’s speech did, however, confirm that the savage racially-tinged attacks on Obama for “redistributing” money from older white folks to younger and darker folks remains at the center of the GOP’s general-election strategy.

Back tomorrow with additional thoughts.

Selah.

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.