Mitt Romney

by Jay Nordlinger

First, just an aside, about balloons: At one point, I looked up toward the roof — or do I mean “ceiling”? — and saw them. Saw the balloons, clustered there, stacked there, waiting to be dropped. What an impressive sight! Even more than the dropping, in a way, because balloon drops are such a familiar sight.

The balloons undropped: They were like a vast, mighty, overpowering army, waiting to be sprung.

A word about the Romney film — the biographical film. I thought, “If you have to talk about illness, and if you have to talk about how much you love your wife — is it really worth running for president?”

Oprah’s America, which is to say, modern America, is not for everyone.

On his way to the podium, Romney shook a lot of hands. And it was a long walk to the podium. He “campaigned,” in a way, for — what? Fifteen minutes? Seemed like it.

I thought he might be a little tired, a little deflated. But the walk, all the handshakes, all the little conversations, seemed to energize him, or at least not detract from his energy.

It seemed to me he was starting his acceptance speech awfully late! McGovern — he had to start his at 2 in the morning or something. What a debacle.
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Nominees always say, right at the outset, “I accept your nomination for . . .” Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone worked that in toward the end of a speech? “And it is for these reasons that I accept your . . .”

If I’m ever nominated, I’ll consider it. (I know: “Don’t wait up nights.”)

Funny thing about Romney’s voice: When it gets loud, it gets very high. True of everyone? To a degree, I’m sure.

For a time, he was glued to his teleprompter — gave it that needy stare. Hard to avoid, I guess, using that device. Frankly, I think reading from paper looks more natural.

Tons of optimism in this speech. Sunny, can-do.

I had a thought after Romney spoke the following line: “When every new wave of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty, or knelt down and kissed the shores of freedom just 90 miles from Castro’s tyranny . . .”

Would Barack Obama ever, ever utter the words “Castro’s tyranny”? Are they imaginable from his mouth? I don’t think so. He would no more say “Castro’s tyranny” than would Rashid Khalidi or Billy Ayers.

I would love to be wrong about this — comforted.

During every big speech at a Republican convention, there are Democratic hecklers. Or so it seems. My question: Are there ever Republican hecklers at Democratic conventions? I can’t think of an instance.

At Republican conventions, the hecklers are shushed with “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Fine with me. But I don’t like the outbursts — the sustained outbursts — of “U-S-A!” otherwise. These strike me as vulgar and jingo. The United States is too great a nation to have to scream and chant about it.

If I were a speaker at a Democratic convention, I might be tempted to use the chant against the Republicans: “The other party seems to think that patriotism consists in chanting ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ But we know that patriotism consists in the quiet acts of . . .”

Said Romney, “I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country.” I had a memory: That is exactly what Bush 41 — Bush-41-to-be — said about Dan Quayle, when introducing him as vice-presidential nominee. Exactly.

Romney said, “If you ask Ann and I . . .” Ugh, ugh, ugh. But very modern.

I think I can quote from Strunk & White: “‘Me’: Use it with confidence!”

Romney’s speech was probably too soft for me — way too soft. But I had a realization about a quarter of the way through: “The speech is not for you, Jay, you dummy. It’s for the country.” And the country has been told that Mitt Romney — a swell guy — is a vicious money-man who crushes little people and hates women. The speech was designed, in part, to counter this asinine lie.

Throughout the speech, Romney was doing something interesting: giving people permission to vote against Obama. Inviting them to do so. “Sure, you liked him — there were perfectly understandable reasons for doing so. But think about the past four years. He has had his chance, and he has failed. Time for another guy — a fresh start.”

When Romney said, “Now is the time to restore the promise of America,” I thought, “That’ll be tagged as racist, for sure. But what isn’t?”

I’m surprised that Romney mentioned Obama so much: “President Obama” this, “President Obama” that. Other speakers, such as Chris Christie, mentioned the president hardly at all. But I liked Romney’s approach: his relaxed directness.

Just about my favorite passage of the speech: “I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No, Mr. President: America has freed other nations from dictators.”

Why promise to create 12 million jobs? How do you get 12? Why not 11, or 13? Seems phony. Plus, Romney is not a central planner.

Rare is the speech that’ll use the word “codified” — and in the peroration!

I liked this speech very much — its content and its delivery. It was not a speech designed to appeal to me, thank heaven. If I’d had my way, Phil Gramm would have been president. (And he would have been great.) But Romney’s was an appealing speech: a right speech for this moment and these circumstances.

He did not shrink from his business career: “In America, we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for it.” He did not shrink from his church. He didn’t shrink from anything. He was wonderfully unapologetic. He was also fair, sound, and American.

I hope he’s elected. I think he’d be very good. A turnaround artist for a country badly in need of a turnaround. I hope the country agrees.

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