Posted on Thursday night for Friday’s blog.
Mitt Romney’s speech was a single with no one on base. Whether the voters move him around the bases is very much a very open question. The curve balls the Republican national convention threw the country were too simple and the lines too obvious. Hispanics. Check. Women. Check. Marriage. Check. Romney could have hit a homerun, but when you start with another Bush, it is hard to be taken seriously. Jeb Bush defending his brother – certain to go down in history as the worst of presidents – reminded the country of how bad George W. Bush was, how bad a time the country is having recovering and how bad Mitt Romney might be. The video promoting Romney before he spoke included photographs of Romney’s father, who with his record on civil rights probably would not have supported Arizona’s anti-HispanicLatino that are metastasizing across the country.
This whole enterprise is warped somehow. The forced, awkward elevation of the man, the lofty descriptions of his business record, the declarations of self-achievement – they all evoke that old Shakespearean line: “I think he doth protest too much.” And poor Clint Eastwood. He represents the skeletal notions of a make-believe past. The disrespect for the Office of the President with the empty-chair act was astonishing. I felt sorry for Eastwood and for the men and women who felt they had to prop up Romney with faded delusion and crudeness. The computer severs at YouTube might be confused at the NSA with spinning centrifuges in Iran. Not far behind Eastwood were the retellings of family stories – from Marco Rubio’s oddly agitated speech to Ann Romney’s pasta-and-tuna saga of the other night. They sounded hollow and lonely, even, perhaps meant to scare people into loss. I figured out that loss was the theme of the convention. Loss of security. Loss of jobs. Loss of families. The concept of the family was used to frighten, not to inspire. I also figured out that Paul Ryan is Eddie Haskell.
Leave it to Beaver was a personal favorite, and when Marco Rubio spoke, he barely beat out being pre-empted by the popular Univision telenovella, Abismo de Pasión. Speaking in front of an angry-red background wearing an angry-red tie, Rubio was himself abysmally angry. His fundamentalist rant was geared more to the anti-HispanicLatino crowd he runs with than to the HispanicLatinos he is supposed to attract. Marco Rubio’s demeanor connotes brainwashed, and like so many in his party it seems he was born angry. Who exactly is pitting Americans against each other? It is his party that has caused HispanicLatinos to consolidate behind President Obama to the tune of more than 70 percent in the polls so far – higher than four years ago.
The marketing department at Republican HQ did a good job promoting the HispanicLatino Republicans who are electoral accidents more than anything else. But keeping a Bush on screen for as long as Jeb Bush was on stage pushed the envelope. Bad. Bad. Bad. Didn’t the voters also turn out their father from office? In baseball, that is a losing streak.
The Romney speech was a monologue of lament and complaint that made the delegates whoop and holler but might have caused many more Americans to ponder that behind all the unconvincing hoopla looms the distinct possible return to the days of Bush. At least no question has been raised so far about the Bushes paying their taxes and using foreign accounts to dodge them. In his speech Romney talked about everyone else’s taxes except his own.
George W. Bush fooled the country to get elected. He stole home base on a walk from the Supreme Court. I am not sure Romney-Ryan-Rubio did anything near what they had to do to keep the country from retiring their side before they even step up to the plate.
Jesse Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman and writes at HispanicLatino.com.
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