A Bouquet of Speeches

by Jay Nordlinger

John McCain: Reminded us — reminded me — of what is particularly good about him: his understanding of what keeps America, and others, strong and free.

An aside: His smile often seems to me forced. “Must smile here, whether I want to or not.” But maybe that’s wrong. Who can tell?

John Thune: A politician from Central Casting, in appearance. (A certain kind of politician — matinée-idol type.) Was very good on the place of entrepreneurship in the American story.

Rob Portman: Said, “Let’s begin by talking about something the Democrats love to demonize — Mitt Romney’s success in the private sector. He built a company from the ground up, created lots of jobs, and yes, he made money.” I admired Portman’s willingness to use the word “money,” rather than some euphemism.

The senator continued, “He made it the old-fashioned way: He earned it.” (Remember the old Smith Barney commercials?)

I also liked what Portman said about Paul Ryan: “a close friend with a great family and a reformer’s heart.”

Tim Pawlenty: A refreshing opening: “Good evening, everyone, and welcome to Barack Obama’s retirement party!” A lot of people said Pawlenty’s speech was totally lame-o. Some jokes worked better than others. But I liked the esprit of it. It was game. It was an effort both honest and lighthearted. Not every speech needs to be grave or important — even in terrible times. Pawlenty provided some comic relief.

More: “Barack Obama has failed us. But look, it’s understandable: A lot of people fail at their first job.”

Mike Huckabee on Romney: “I’m sure the press will tell you he isn’t perfect. But for the past four years, we’ve tried the one the press thought was perfect, and that hasn’t worked out so well for us. We can do better!”

Nicely formulated.

More Huck: “Joe Biden’s budget shows that while he wants to be generous with your money through higher taxes and government spending, for years he gave less than two-tenths of 1 percent of his money to charity.” Kind of risky — low? — to bring up another’s charitable giving. But interesting. Maybe even gutsy.

Huckabee continued, “He just wants you to give the government more so he and the Democrats can feel better about themselves.” A harsh line, but not untrue, I think. “Mitt Romney has given over 16 percent of his income to his church and charity, and I’d feel better about having a leader who gives more of his own money instead of mine.”

Obama “got a Nobel Peace Prize for what he would potentially do,” said Huck, “but in the real world, you get the prize for producing something, not just promising it.” The ex-governor is not quite right there: Obama received the Nobel at least as much for what he had done as for what he might do — in the eyes of the committee, I mean. But there is a portion of truth in what Huck said.

Condoleezza Rice: Will do a separate post on her.

Paul Ryan: Marvelously written speech, of course. I do not regard the congressman as a deliverer of a speech. I believe his strengths, which are manifold, lie elsewhere. (Plus, he’s such a peach of a person.) But the world thought he was sensational, which is fine by me — more than fine: The success of this ticket is hugely important. Too important, in a way.

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