BREAKING: The GOP accidentally nominates the guy who created ObamaCare.
The definition of insanity is doing exactly what George W. Bush did and expecting different results. Tonight Mitt Romney and the party he tricked into nominating him will make their insanity official with a party platform that in almost every way resembles the last platform of George W. Bush. Only now the tax breaks for the rich are bigger, the cuts for the middle class are steeper and Medicare will become a “defined benefit program” that erases the Medicare promise.
Tonight’s agenda is designed to humanize Mitt Romney – something Gepetto gave up on decades ago. Part of rehabilitating Romney’s image involves retelling the story of Bain Capital. What America knows about Bain mostly comes from the Newt Gingrich Super PAC’s documentary and the Obama campaign. Expect to hear Staples and the Sports Authority over and over. Apparently in Romney’s America, the job creators job create and everyone else wears a nametag.
Tonight’s speakers include the person the GOP is counting on to sell you Mitt Romney – his wife – and the guy many Republicans wish had been the nominee – Chris Christie (R-New Jersey). But you’ll also get conservatives favorite union bashers – Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) and John Kasich (R-Ohio). And two business owners who are supposed to exemplify the spirit of building a business without government help – though both had lots and lots of government help.
The RNC already had a mini-floor fight that resulted in Ron Paul’s Maine delegation leaving the convention hall. But don’t expect any similar flare-ups during tonight’s primetime extravaganza.
Check back here when the convention begins so we can make our own fireworks as the GOP simultaneously pretends George W. Bush never existed while running on his ideas.
7:00 PM EST
On PBS, Romney economic advisor Glenn Hubbard — who was coincidentally a George W. Bush economic advisor — wants you to know that some of Mitt’s proposed 20 percent across-the-board tax break will be paid for by economic growth. Just as he did when he sold the Bush tax breaks that led to about zero net jobs. Amazing that these magic beans are still being sold.
7:10 PM EST
“[Mitt Romney] is a much better person than people think.” A stunning endorsement from David Brooks.
7:16 PM EST
Boehner calls the convention to order, avoids any tears. Asks his famous question, “Where are the jobs?” And by jobs he means the bills limiting women’s rights. As the Speaker of the least popular House ever, he keeps his comments short.
7:23 PM EST
Reince Priebus always sounds as he he’s rallying everyone against the “nerds.” He constantly rants against the gutter politics of “the other side.” Then says that vice-president does nothing but put his foot in his mouth. Then he defies logic and sense and says the president made the economy worse.
Is the theme of this convention “We Did Quote That Out Of Context!”? All night long they’re going to insinuate that the president said “you” didn’t build your business — instead of roads and bridges. This, apparently, is the best they got.
7:34 PM EST
Wow. On PBS, Ron Paul supporters are talking about bolting the Republican Party and forming a new party. “It’s absolutely corrupt,” the Ron Paul delegate said.
7:42 PM EST
Mia Love (R- Utah), the African-American Mormon candidate for congress in Utah, is speaking. And she’s very angry at the president. This continual attack that presumes the president is a socialist that doesn’t believe in the American Dream makes sense to Fox viewers. To everyone else it must just seem like crazed ranting.
7:47 PM EST
After Mia Love, we get our first birther. Janine Turner was a star of TV’s Northern Exposure and now she’s a star of the movement to suggest the president is part of a more than fifty year old fraud to make a half-Kenyan child president.
8:03 PM EST
Hurricane Isaac has hit land in Louisiana, almost seven years to the day Katrina hit New Orleans. Even an atheist has wonder if this is a sign.
Sher Valenzuela is making the case this president doesn’t understand free enterprise. But she never mentions the crucial role government played in building her business.
8:12 PM EST
So we have a host for tonight’s Republican convention — Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington). And of course, she is a birther.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) is up next. Brings up her husband’s service and how she built a business with him plowing snow and scaping lands.
Again and again, speakers are returning to this theme of “We built this!” as if we’re supposed to know the twisted reference they’re making. This is not a convention that’s supposed to make sense to anyone who isn’t already buying the GOP’s narrative.
Ayotte brings out another business owner Jack Gilchrist. Another business owner with a record of receiving lots of government help to build his business. But with his New England accent, he reads quite authentically.
8:26 PM EST
Next up, John Kasich. One of many Republican governors taking credit for the president’s auto rescue. Why had Ohio lost 400,000 jobs before he took office? Maybe because the Big Three was about to go out of business and Mitt Romney was cheering for its demise.
Like Governor Rick Snyder (R-Michigan), Kasich speaks about the economic renewal in the region as if it was entirely the result of policies that weren’t in effect when the recovery started.
He’s making an ode to the president’s policies and he doesn’t even notice it.
8:44 PM EST
There’s a lot of buzz no pointing out that the GOP is basing their entire convention on an out of context quote.
This is like an entire convention based on criticizing FDR for saying “we have to fear” something.
— David Dayen (@ddayen) August 29, 2012
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) August 29, 2012
8:47 PM EST
Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Virginia) speaks about how the state that houses the Pentagon thrived without the government. To me he seems as he’s much more appealing than Paul Ryan. He doesn’t have the Rand/Dungeon Master affect. But he has that little issue of forced vaginal ultrasounds probably killed his chance. Government small enough to fit in your uterus personified.
9:03 PM EST
Scott Walker receives a huge standing ovation. He’s like Elvis who fires teachers.
Walker does have a swagger since he defeated the country’s entire labor with the help with the Koch brothers and union busters from all America.
He also has to make the pained argument that things are much better since 2010 while indicting the president. It’s an argument that doesn’t connect and makes a cohesive speech nearly impossible.
9:10 PM EST
On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow calls out Rick Santorum for his “blah” people comments. Again Chris Matthews gives a full throated debunking of the race card Romney and the GOP are playing in the “absolutely untrue” attack on the president’s welfare policy.
“If Rick Santorum tells you that President Obama gutted the work requirement in welfare reform, it’s not true,” Rachel Maddow says in her introduction to the man who would have beat Mr. Romney if he didn’t say that JFK made him puke.
Like most of the speakers at the convention, Santorum gives a much better speech than Mitt Romney.
And here it is, Santorum makes an attack on the president’s waivers for welfare reform, which were requested by Republican governors. This is an attack that is fundamentally untrue and designed specifically to raise racial sentiment. A perfect fit for Rick Santorum.
FLASHBACK: Rick Santorum said Mitt Romney was the “worst candidate” against President Obama.
9:36 PM EST
Former Democrat Artur Davis is now speaking on behalf of Mitt Romney who he calls the most qualified chief executive in sixty years. He’s saying that Romney is more qualified than Ronald Reagan? Where’s my pitchfork?
He’s making his appeal directly to swing voters, invoking John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton and attacking Occupy Wall Street. “This is the dawn before we remember who we are,” he says.
Finishes with, “Let’s take this country back.”
Hannity and Kasich on Fox News love it and continually remind reviewers he was Democrat. Best Democrat Romney could buy.
10:02 PM EST
Now up Governor Nikki Haley (R-South Carolina). She says President Barack Obama will do anything to stand in your way. She says the president has refused to secure the border, ignoring the fact that the borders haven’t been more secure in generation. Then she goes on to praise voter identification requirements for voting.
As one Republican with a Sikh background, Haley has a unique opportunity to do some real outreach to non-white voters. Sadly, she tosses out the reddest meat you can find in any red state.
But Governor Haley is quite an orator with a flow and conviction that stands out in this crowd. However like every speaker tonight, she seems to have forgotten a key detail of Romney’s bio.
#rnc2012 speakers, do you guys know Romney was once governor of Massachusetts?
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) August 29, 2012
10:07 PM EST
On Fox News, Chris Wallace reiterates the out-of-context reading of the president’s quote. He then tells us, “Don’t be surprised if Mitt Romney shows up after his wife’s speech and blows the roof off this place.” Spoiler!
(PLEASE NOTE: I really resent how Republicans have treated the First Lady. Hence I won’t be mocking Ann Romney.)
Ann Romney arrives in, as Larry Sabato notes, Nancy Reagan red. There are a bunch of suspiciously similar “Women Heart Ann” signs. Mrs. Romney starts by noting that Hurricane Isaac has hit land. She asks for prayers for the people in the path and then says she wants to talk about “love.”
What follows is a list of the people struggling today in this economy. “I have been all across this country. And I know a lot of you guys,” she says. “I’ve heard your voices.”
“I love you women!” she then adds. Again she lists a lot of the details of the many tasks mothers take on. “There would not be an America without you.”
“We’re not dumb enough to accept that there are not better answers.” She then goes on about the boy she fell in love with. “His name is Mitt Romney and you should get to know him!”
From the story of how she and Mitt met, Ann slides to her grandfather — a Welsh coal miner.
She’s charming the audience with her bursts of emotion. The argument is that she likes Mitt and thus Mitt is likable.
Her marriage isn’t a “storybook” marriage. It’s a real marriage. She notes struggles with five boys screaming and her own experiences with MS and cancer.
She resents the way Mitt Romney’s success has been attacked. No one will work harder for this country than Mitt Romney, she says. She says her husband’s success has given them the chance to help others, which Mitt Romney doesn’t like to mention.
She gives her husbands resume including the fact that under Mitt, Massachusetts had the best schools in America. Also some of the highest paid teachers and highest per student expenditures.
“This man will not fail,” she says, her thesis statement. And Mitt comes out to join her. This almost seems to quiet the crowd a bit.
10:34 PM EST
Now presenting the man the GOP wishes Mitt Romney was — Chris Christie!
If I were Mitt, I would have let Ann finish out the night. There’s not going to be a better case made for him. Everything else will be a stale attack on the president.
Christie says his speech is about choosing respect over love. It’s almost as if he’s rebutting Ann Romney.
He keeps saying over and over “They said…” he couldn’t do what he did. But apparently he did it. Unfortunately the result of his efforts is that New Jersey has a higher unemployment rate than Michigan. He blasts politicians who pander, failing to mention he refused to take a stand on marriage equality, sending the issue to a popular vote.
He says that Democrats ideas have failed America. He’s the perfect example of a Republican who believes history began the day Obama took office.
Several minutes into his speech, he hasn’t mentioned the name Mitt Romney once. Instead, he’s described what Democrats believe in the most demeaning, simple-minded manner possible.
He finally gets to Mitt Romney late, late in his speech, quickly linking him with Paul Ryan. Ann Romney was the lede you wanted for this night, and Chris Christie has buried it.
Christie’s build up of Mitt Romney includes the first very specific attack on ObamaCare of the night.
“This moment is real,” Christie says. He takes on the skeptics and the naysayers. “I have faith in us.”
“Real leaders don’t follow polls,” Christie says. This is an attack that makes more sense against Mitt Romney than against the president who staked his presidency for policies that haven’t polled well.
Christie’s conclusion is calling for a “Second American Century.” “Let us choose a path that will be remembered for generations to come.” This is the most articulate explication of the “We Built This!” theme — calling for difficult decisions that will build the future. It’s vague but compelling. However, it does more for Chris Christie than it does for Mitt Romney, who was briefly humanized by his wife.