Shortly into his speech, I thought, “He should’ve run. He really should have. And he could have won” (the nomination). I think he thinks so too — that he should’ve and could’ve.
Yeah, he had been in office only a couple of years. But when you’re hot, you’re hot. And the opportunity may never come again. Newt’s time was 1996. Sure, he had just settled into the Speaker’s job. But when you’re hot — you’re hot.
Period. (Sorry to sound so absolute.)
‐There is a piece of high praise I include in my music criticism, from time to time: “I stopped reviewing and simply listened.” That is to say, I stopped taking notes and whatnot — stopped thinking about what I was going to write — and just listened, like anyone else. I just wanted to drink it in.
That happens to me rarely in a concert hall or opera house. And when it does, it is magnificent.
I felt this way for about the first half of Christie’s speech. I didn’t want to take notes, though I had my laptop in my lap (where a laptop belongs). I just wanted to listen to it. To be a spectator, a hearer.
‐That wavy backdrop behind Christie? That moving-sky thing? Terrible, I thought. Was making me seasick, and distracting from the speech. But then I thought, “These guys are professionals, these Deavers. They make a billion dollars figuring out what ‘visuals’ are most effective. What do I know?”
But still: I thought the wavy sky was terrible.
‐This is what a lack of coordination can do: Ann Romney said her speech was going to be all about love. And then Christie comes along and says, “Tonight, we choose respect over love”! I almost fell out!
‐In his years as governor, Christie has talked turkey to teachers’ unions, talked turkey to other unions, and talked turkey to people at large. He has treated them as adults. “Look,” he has said, “this is what it’s going to take to fix the state. Are you willing to do it or not?” They have been willing. They have not punished the straight talk, and the straight action. Quite the contrary.
That was a main point of Christie’s keynote. “Fear not!” he said (in effect). “Fear not the bold action that is necessary to save the country! The people will respond. Besides, what choice do we have?”
Christie is a conservative of tremendous nerve (and also practical wisdom). He is almost the definitional conservative in the current crisis.
‐That debt clock they’ve got up in the convention hall? Say what you will about the wavy-sky backdrop, the clock is a very good idea. “Tick tock,” it tells us. “Time’s a-wastin’. Do you want to save the country or not?”
‐Speaking of clocks: For some reason, Christie began to rush — to rush his speech, to talk too fast. The common fault of speakers, in my opinion, is to talk too slow. To go all Mister Rogers-like. That’s because coaches and others tell them, “Above all, slow down!” And the guy starts to speak unnaturally — with an unnatural, too-slow cadence.
But Christie rushed. Was he trying to beat the clock? To finish before the expiration of prime time?
Anyway, it was not a major problem.
‐I heard it said afterward, “Christie didn’t mention Mitt, the nominee, until way into his speech!” So? Good! It was a shrewdly crafted speech. There was plenty of time to say, “Mitt is the man of the hour” — and Christie said it. A convention should be more than an infomercial for one man. Republicans — small-r republicans and party Republicans — should not extol a Great Leader, hour after hour. We have bigger fish to fry. Christie explained what those fish are — and then said, “Go fry ’em, Mitt” (so to speak).
‐Here was something unusual in Christie’s speech: pain; austerity; some root canal; some “This is gonna hurt.” Not the usual political talk, and risky — but Christie. Part of his “Let’s be honest here . . .”
Reagan didn’t talk austerity — but he was willing to go along with it — that Volcker root canal — for ’82, ’83 . . . and then, in the nick of time, recovery . . . (“Morning in America”!)
‐He shoulda run (Christie). He coulda won — the nomination and the presidency. I think that Romney is the right guy for the hour and the job. Still, Christie could have given Mitt a helluva scare, at a minimum.
Cabinet post in a Romney administration? DHS? The next few years will be interesting. If Obama is reelected, they will be far too interesting, as in the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I did not buy a ticket — not willingly, did you? — to witness the crash of America.