No. I said that Romney should choose Paul Ryan as his running mate long before he actually picked him and I still think Paul Ryan was the very best Vice President that Romney could have chosen.
If I was running Romney’s campaign and I had 100 chances to make changes that I thought would result in a win, I would have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate all 100 times. Win-or-lose, Ryan was a solid choice for VP. The Republicans should second-guess a lot of things, but that’s not one of them.
I think the VP debate is far more important this year than in other years, especially right now because the momentum is in Romney’s favor. If Ryan wins the debate handily, Obama better pack a lunch and be ready to decimate Romney in the second and third Presidential debates because that’s what it will take to reverse the momentum.
In my opinion, the Obama campaign has to let Biden be Biden tonight. In the past year, the media (particularly Drudge) salivates every single time Biden gets in front of a microphone because they think he’s going to say something that derails the campaign. Here’s the thing that Democrats should think about, though: in all of those “gaffes” that Biden has made, when has he said something that we don’t agree with? Health care reform was “a big fucking deal”. His comments on gay marriage weren’t indefensible; instead, he pushed the President to take a definitive stand on the right side of history. People aren’t worried that Biden is dumb or offensive; they’re worried that he’s honest. Biden is what Harry Truman would be like had Truman lived and served in this time.
In 2008, the campaign muzzled Biden at the VP debate because they were worried he would beat Sarah Palin so badly that people would start feeling sorry for her. Everyone knew that she was out of her league during the debate — even SHE knew she was out her league in the debate. All Biden had to do was let her talk and he would win. The campaign was smart in 2008 because, if Biden was unleashed, it would have become uncomfortable. Americans are fine with seeing someone get destroyed, but there is that point where you start worrying when you see the victor standing there covered in blood and laughing while everyone is saying, “Wow, I feel sorry for her.” They did what they had to do in 2008, and Biden knew his role and played it perfectly, even though that’s not Biden’s natural state. That’s why he stepped off the stage at the debate with Palin and told his campaign staff, “You guys owe me. You don’t know how much restraint that took.”
Four years later, the Obama campaign not only owes Joe Biden, but they NEED him. Paul Ryan is not Sarah Palin. Yes, he looks like creepy-ass Gabe from The Office and I don’t agree with his ideas, but he actually HAS ideas. Paul Ryan doesn’t simply memorize talking points and prep for the debate like it’s a junior high school play; he formulated much of the opposition’s policy in Congress, particularly when it comes to the budget. Ryan is one of the Republican Party’s intellectual centers and a guy who is not only smart enough to formulate his party’s policy, but ballsy enough to propose and defend it, will be a formidable opponent. This isn’t a slam dunk (Copyright ©2003 George Tenet), and Biden will have to be on his game. Yet, Ryan cannot underestimate Biden, either. Biden is such a nice, charming, likeable guy that it’s easy to forget that he is a lifelong overachiever. When he was elected to the Senate in 1972, he didn’t reach the Constitutional age minimum for taking his seat (30 years old) until two weeks after his election. He’s one of the longest-serving Senators of all-time. He is tough (widowed just after his Senate election and a single dad during his early years in Washington) and honest (that’s what his “gaffes” are, pure honesty). And he is experienced. It is not a coincidence that the biggest legislative victories of the Obama Administration have been projects where Biden has played a major role as a liaison between the White House and the Capitol. I think President Obama needs Joe Biden more than most people realize, and tonight’s debate is another situation where the loyal VP might have to save his President’s ass.
In order for him to do that, the safety has to come off. Biden has to be able to be Biden because he can and will frustrate and surprise Paul Ryan. Ryan is a numbers guy, Biden is an empathetic, I-feel-your-pain, blue-collar politician. We see the pictures of Paul Ryan in his hunting gear or wearing his Green Bay Packers colors, but I do not believe that Paul Ryan can out-blue-collar (I just made that phrase up, so let’s just accept it) the Scranton-born, Wilmington-raised, Amtrak-riding, Capitol creature that Joe Biden truly is. And this is a debate which focuses on domestic issues and foreign policy. Congressman Ryan is the GOP’s guiding light on economic and budget issues, but he cannot hold a candle to Vice President Biden on foreign policy. Biden became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Paul Ryan started kindergarten in 1975. For Biden’s final 10 years in the Senate, he was either the chairman or ranking member of the powerful committee. The Vice President will chew Ryan up on foreign policy, so the GOP’s VP candidate is going to do his best to score his points on domestic policy and the economy.
I’m very much looking forward to this debate tonight. I think it will be much more interesting than Obama and Romney because the VP candidates will be far more likely to take some risks. I’m sure Biden is spoiling for a fight and aiming to prove his worth once again by recapturing the momentum lost by the President last week. Ryan is a brilliant young Congressman who does the one unique thing that makes him stand out amongst the 535 members of the House and Senate — he leads and stands on his ideas, not his party’s ideology.
Biden shouldn’t have to restrain himself tonight and Paul Ryan is not Sarah Palin, so this won’t be like 2008 which felt more like Fisher-Price’s “My First Debate” so that Biden couldn’t make Palin cry. I’m pumped and I’ll be doing a Smart-Ass Commentary™ tonight (I’ll probably post it early tomorrow morning).
ADDENDUM: If Paul Ryan wanted to throw the Vice President off his game tonight, he should come out and pull the Palin bit, wink at the camera, and then turn to Biden and say, “Can I call ya Joe?” That would be awesome.
The other thing that would be awesome — and I don’t know why a candidate doesn’t try this just to be completely condescending — is if Biden just referred to Ryan by like 15 different names, as if he is just a cookie-cutter House Republican (which Ryan actually is not). How annoyed would Ryan get if Biden would refer to him as, “My opponent, Mr. Cantor” or “I’m going to have to disagree with you, Congressman McCarthy”?
That last paragraph is probably a good example of why nobody has ever asked me to help with debate prep.
It’s time for the main event of the evening and the most important speech of Mitt Romney’s life. For Part I of my Smart-Ass Commentary featuring a look at Clint Eastwood’s speech and Mitt Romney’s introduction video, click this link. Otherwise, strap yourselves in because it’s time for me to share my thoughts from last night as I watched Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech as the Republican nominee for President of the United States from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
•If Mitt Romney really has that mischievous sense of humor that his friends and family keep claiming he has, his entrance music should have been AMG’s “Bitch Betta Have My Money”.
•If that had happened, I would have voted for Romney, no matter what his positions or policies were.
•Might as well get it out of the way now: Lots of white folks in that crowd.
•I question the life experiences of a 65-year-old man who looks as youthful as Mitt Romney. I have more gray hair than he does.
•That is not a joke, sadly.
•Stop yelling, Mitt, you’ve got a microphone.
•How pissed would the GOP have been if Romney pivoted to the left and started running as a moderate IMMEDIATELY after the sentence where he accepted the nomination?
•Would people be that surprised?
•It seems like there are less banners and signs at this convention. Political conventions should have more silly signs and more state delegations wearing goofy hats.
•One minute in and I can say that Romney is better at speaking to the television audience while simultaneously using the teleprompter than Obama is. That’s one of my pet peeves about Obama — not that he uses a teleprompter, but that he stares at it too much instead of speaking to the audience.
•Okay, maybe I was wrong about the teleprompter thing. The line about Paul Ryan’s iPod playlist could not have been delivered more like a robot if R2D2 had said it.
•Mitt Romney’s eyebrows never match what he is saying or what emotion he is trying to convey. He’s like a broken Muppet.
•Why do American politicians still talk about Fidel Castro and his “tyranny”? He’s outlasted EVERYONE since Eisenhower. He won. Just kill the embargo and let’s reconnect with Cuba and the Cuban people. If we’re open to diplomacy with the Taliban, surely we can talk to the Cuba of 86-year-old Fidel Castro, who isn’t even in power anymore.
•The underlying message of every speech of this Convention has been, “Yeah, electing a black guy was a cool novelty, but now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…”
•If you disagree, go back and find where speakers at the GOP Convention talked about the “excitement” of Obama’s election and replace that word with “gimmick” or “experiment”. You’ll see what I mean.
•Romney looks like he’s expecting the real candidate to come out and take over at any second.
•”When you lost that job that paid $22.50/hour with benefits…” — Ummm…even when the economy was good, most of us didn’t have jobs like that, moneybags.
•Why are they chanting “USA! USA!”? It’s not like Romney is facing the Iron Sheik.
•Seriously, those eyebrows really need to get synced up with the rest of his software.
•I love those awkward moments in political speeches where the politician expects an applause break…but the crowd doesn’t applaud, so the politician kind of just pauses and smiles and then continues with the speech…but the crowd has realized by that time that it was supposed to applaud so it does…but the politician had already started speaking so he has to stop and allow the crowd’s guilty applause break to take place…and then everything is just off-balance for a few paragraphs after that. It has happened in every single speech since Antony eulogized Caesar.
•I can’t believe that he shared that after they watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon on her parents’ sofa that he and Ann “knocked boots until the Apollo mission came home”. That seemed wildly inappropriate for this setting.
•Oh, look, many of the people in the Texas delegation are dressed like jackasses! A time-honored tradition of douchebaggery from the Lone Star state.
•STOP CHANTING “USA!” — THE OTHER SIDE ARE AMERICANS, TOO.
•Romney paid tribute to Neil Armstrong’s “unique blend of optimism, humility and confidence”, as well as Armstrong’s complete aversion to the American public and intense, 40-year-long dislike for sharing his amazing story with others.
•When you need someone to leave a bunch of trash on the moon, “you need an American.”
•If Mitt Romney is going to keep trying to pass off the fact that his dad was born in Mexico as if he is some sort of secret Mexican, I wish the Obama campaign’s truth team would share that the reason Mitt’s dad was born in Mexico was because most Americans (“USA!”) frowned on the fact that Mitt’s grandfather was a polygamist who wanted to have a bunch of wives.
•”Yay, Detroit! Our city isn’t quite as bad as Mogadishu…oh wait…nevermind. Our city isn’t quite as bad as Aleppo!”
•Boy, did Romney ever skip over the Mormon thing quickly or what?
•”My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all…” — a shitload of money.
•”You know, if every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family — and God’s love — this world would be a far more gentle and better place” — That ranks right up there amongst the corniest things ever said. Congratulations, Mitt, you just made a sentence that was the equivalent of a pink kitten t-shirt!
•And, immediately, the cameras cut to the crowd where someone is shaking their ugly baby because they stupidly brought it to a political convention.
•How annoying would it have had to be to be the florist who delivered one rose to the Romney home every day for 64 years?
•Romney’s mom realized that Romney’s dad was dead because there was no rose waiting for her in the morning? How about checking on your husband before checking for the rose? Jesus, talk about priorities.
•Romney can hear his mom saying “Why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation?”. On that note, I ask, “Why should men have ANY say about the way a woman takes care of her body?”.
•Okay, here are a bunch of crowd shots. I’m going to play a game called Let’s Find A Black Person. Oh…sorry, Anthony, you lose…better luck in Charlotte.
•Romney just ran off the name of a bunch of Republican women and Sarah Palin got no love. My, how the mediocre have fallen.
•Wait, did Mitt Romney just say that he wants to wake up in the morning and discover a pile of kids asleep in his room?
•Why are all of the old women in the audience tearing up as he speaks and blubbering like a bunch of old wome…oh.
•Again, Mitt Romney clearly admits that his wife is more qualified than he is to be President since her job was harder and more important.
•Okay, finally, the meat of the speech.
•”You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as President when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.” — OUCH. Killer line. No joke. That was good.
•Shit, he’s kinda, sorta on fire right now. I don’t agree with what he’s saying, but he’s saying it well.
•He’s coming across as likeable while talking about his business experience. What the hell happened in the past five minutes?
•Oh, good. Nothing turns me back to being cynical more quickly than showing a reaction shot of “the people”.
•Hey, you can’t claim Steve Jobs.
•A comparison with Jimmy Carter? Now, that’s just low, dude.
•”Americans have supported this President in good faith.” — Oh yeah, that totally happened.
•”Many Americans have given up on this President but they haven’t ever thought about giving up.” — Romney’s such a flip-flopper that he just literally changed positions in the same sentence.
•Hey, it’s a guy dressed up as a American Revolution-era gay clown!
•Hahaha…the crowd was doing the gimmick where they boo after the punchlines, but then Romney said something that they were supposed to cheer and 15,000 confused people went, “Uh…(clap?)”.
•Mitt Romney has a 5-step plan to create 12 million new jobs. I have a 1-step plan: Execute 12 million working Americans.
•Why is the whitest guy in the crowd holding a “Hispanics 4 Romney” sign. Was that Mitt’s grandfather?
•I love how they showed Newt Gingrich immediately after Romney said he would “honor the institution of marriage.” There is no way that was unintentional.
•What the fuck ever happened to Herman Cain?
•The crowd at the RNC laughed when Romney said that Obama promised to “slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet”, and it was a perfect illustration of what frightens me about that party — the fact that they respond to the idea of science with the same incredulity that I have when I respond to the idea of a big bearded man in some paradise up in the clouds who will send me to a fiery place full of monsters if I’m not good.
•For fuck’s sake, enough about “Castro’s Cuba”. I get that Romney wants to be Reagan-ish, but the shit about Cuban sanctions, missile defense commitments in Poland, and toughness against Russia sounds like he forgot that it’s not 1982.
•What’s next? “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”?
•Maybe he should talk about how that Qaddafi guy is a mad dog.
•If you want to criticize Obama on foreign policy, hit him on Syria, not on Cuba.
•This speech is officially five minutes too long, and it’s not wrapping up.
•You know, despite the fact that he is shifty politically, Mitt Romney comes across most of the time as a genuinely nice man…BUT every once in a while those dysfunctional eyebrows reveal a confused vacancy in his eyes and he looks like an older version of a rape-y frat guy from Veronica Mars.
•Call and response. That’s not a tired gimmick during political speeches.
•Sweet, I think he is wrapping up after all.
•Balloons…gotta have balloons at the Convention, and a bunch of lily-white children on stage. If you turned down the sound on the TV and played Wagner instead, it would look like a Leni Riefenstahl film.
•I know that I’ve watched far too many episodes of WWE Monday Night Raw when I keep hoping that Romney will pull a CM Punk, smash Paul Ryan in the head with the microphone, and then unbutton his dress shirt to display an Obama logo as he screams “Yay to gay people! Yay to abortions!” at the crowd while Jim Ross talks about how “Good Gawd! Mitt Romney has turned his back on the people!”.
Overall, the speech had a strong finish, and was pretty solid once he got past his boring-ass family. He seemed the most human and passionate (and strangely likeable) when he spoke about his business experience, oddly enough. The speech wasn’t as good as Reagan or Clinton, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as John Kerry or John McCain, either.
Back in January, I jotted down my smart-ass thoughts as I watched President Obama deliver his 2012 State of the Union Address. I did something similar back in August 2009 while watching Senator Edward Kennedy’s funeral (Part I•Part II•Part III•Part IV). Since then, I’ve had requests to do it again, so what better opportunity than Mitt Romney’s speech accepting the Republican Presidential nomination last night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida?
Even though I am posting this the following morning, in a way, I guess it’s like a liveblog. These are the notes I wrote down as I watched the proceedings at the Convention on Thursday night. As an added bonus, I’m starting off by including the notes I made while watching the RNC’s introduction video about Romney as well as the speech by “mystery guest” Clint Eastwood.
CLINT EASTWOOD’S SPEECH
•Good Lord, it’s the old lady from the bathtub in The Shining!
•My mistake, that’s Clint Eastwood, star of such classics as Space Cowboys and that one Super Bowl commercial.
•He hasn’t spoken a word yet, but I’d bet all of my money that he uses a phrase from one of his movies.
•Actually, no joke, Eastwood is starting to look like President John Tyler.
•WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS DODDERING OLD MAN SAYING?
•This is really embarrassing for America.
•If they wanted a drunk Republican to speak, they could have just used Rick Perry.
•Wow, it’s a skeleton talking to an empty chair.
•I don’t even know what smart-assed things to say; this is kind of frightening and sad.
•Even the highly-partisan audience in Tampa is worried.
•There’s a significant chance that Eastwood genuinely believes Obama is sitting in that empty chair.
•Did he just make a “go fuck yourself” joke? Why are these church-going conservatives laughing at such filth?
•He just called a plane a “truck”.
•Eastwood thinks that he’s endorsing Wendell Willkie.
•Lots of white folks in that crowd.
•What a surprise — he used a phrase from one of his movies. That never got old when Governor Schwarzenegger did it in every speech for almost eight years.
•That was…I just don’t know…but I hope he goes and sees Ronald Reagan’s doctors ASAP.
I’m almost too stunned to continue, but it’s time for the introduction video.
MITT ROMNEY INTRODUCTION VIDEO
•I remember having to watch a similar video about Barack Obama approximately 900 times during the 2008 campaign, so this should be equally unbearable.
•Generic shots of winter sports = Presidential leadership.
•Dan Jansen shouldn’t have fallen asleep on the beach with his sunglasses on.
•Listen, I’m not a total dick; I liked how he talked about his relationship with his wife. That was a nice touch and a good story.
•That Romney family is the ideal Aryan family.
•All of Romney’s sons look like meteorologists from some mid-sized American city like Spokane, Washington or Boulder, Colorado.
•If what Ann Romney was doing was more important than what Mitt Romney was doing, why isn’t she running for President?
•EWWW…did Mitt Romney say “knuckle snorts” as a playful name? Disqualified.
•Lots of white folks in this video.
•I wonder how much money the Romney family annually spends on khaki Dockers.
•Mitt Romney can’t replace a lightbulb on the stove correctly. Elect this man!
•The dude from Staples: “Mitt is a cheap son-of-a-gun.” How great would it be if this video was just incredibly profane? “Mitt is a cheap motherfucker.” Or if one of his uber-white sons said, “My dad is my nigga.”
•In the two-shot, as Ann Romney speaks while Mitt is creepily staring at her, we can’t see that he is actually gripping her leg with his hand and digging his fingernails into her skin in order to keep her saying nice things.
•That’s right — I’m alleging that Mitt Romney is an intimidating, wife-beater despite having no evidence whatsoever that would lead any sane individual to that conclusion.
•Sorry, that last comment was fact-checked by the Washington Times.
•To be fair, that was a good video that served its purpose well.
Alright, it’s time for the main event, Governor Romney’s acceptance speech, which gets it own separate post.
While a stint in the United States House of Representatives is a fairly common job that you will find on the resumes of our Presidents and Vice Presidents, it usually is not a stepping stone directly into the Presidency or Vice Presidency. In fact, if the Republican ticket featuring Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan win in November, Ryan will be the first incumbent member of the House in 80 years to take office as President or Vice President.
Only one incumbent House member has been elected President: James Garfield of Ohio in 1880. Five incumbent members of the House of Representatives have been elected Vice President: Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky (1836), Schuyler Colfax of Indiana (1868), William Almon Wheeler of New York (1876), James Schoolcraft Sherman of New York (1908), and John Nance Garner of Texas (1932). Colfax and Garner are also the only incumbent Speakers of the House to be elected President or Vice President.
Overall, 18 Presidents served in the U.S. House of Representatives at one point in their career, including James K. Polk, who remains the only Speaker of the House to serve as President. John Quincy Adams served in the House AFTER he was President. John Tyler, who served in the U.S. House early in his career, was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death.
Although we haven’t had an incumbent House member elected Vice President since 1932, Paul Ryan might take some comfort in the fact that, throughout our history, a whopping 24 Vice Presidents served in the House at some point in their lives (25 if you count Daniel D. Tompkins who was elected to the House but resigned before taking office in order to accept an appointment to the New York State Supreme Court). Not only that, but four of our last five Vice Presidents (Bush 41, Quayle, Gore, and Cheney) were House alumni.
It would absolutely, positively be Paul Ryan. With no hesitations or reservations whatsoever. If I was running the Obama campaign or a high-level Democrat, I would be crossing my fingers and hoping that Romney’s Vice Presidential search committee is made up of the same people on John McCain’s Vice Presidential search committee.
Just from a purely Electoral standpoint, Romney/Ryan would be a potent, dangerous ticket that matches up well against Obama/Biden. Romney and Ryan also complement each other really well — politically, geographically, temperamentally, personality-wise, and even physically. They look like good running mates. Romney/Ryan is such a perfect combination for the GOP that their names actually sound like they should be said in a commercial or put together on a yard sign or on a bumper sticker.
I’ve mentioned it before but, whether you agree with his politics or not, Paul Ryan is a rising star. He works hard, he’s smart, he puts forth his own ideas, he’s a good-looking, young, overachiever with a photogenic family, and he also happens to be an advocate and activist in Congress rather than a follower or simple dissenter. Ryan isn’t a Dan Quayle-type pick; he’s an Al Gore — somebody who could just as easily trade places and step into the top spot on the ticket.
On my Electoral map right now, I have Obama at 217 Electoral votes and Romney at 191. You need 270 Electoral votes to win the Presidency. These are the states that I would consider still up for grabs as of right now (and, again, this is my own personal opinion on how the Electoral map looks as of this morning, June 26, 2012):
•Colorado (9 Electoral votes)
•Florida (29 Electoral votes)
•Iowa (6 Electoral votes
•Nevada (6 Electoral votes)
•New Hampshire (4 Electoral votes)
•North Carolina (15 Electoral votes)
•Ohio (18 Electoral votes)
•Pennsylvania (20 Electoral votes)
•Virginia (13 Electoral votes)
•Wisconsin (10 Electoral votes)
If Ryan (in his 7th term representing Wisconsin in Congress) was Romney’s running mate, and the election was held today, I think they’d definitely take Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia. That’s 273 Electoral votes for Romney/Ryan. That’s one-and-done, game over, time to start building the Library for Obama.
I’m telling you — if you’re a Democrat, Romney/Ryan is very scary when you look at the Electoral map. Marco Rubio might be more valuable than Ryan in Florida, but Ryan would make much more of an impact as Romney’s running mate nationally. If I were Romney, not only would I choose Paul Ryan, but I wouldn’t even wait for the convention. I’d do it now. I’d say, “Presidents must be decisive, trust their instincts, and make the best decisions for our country. I don’t need to wait until Tampa to tell you that Paul Ryan is the best person that I know to serve as the next Vice President of the United States.” Shake things up, make a big splash, and have your team set to run throughout the summer and straight into the cycle for the general which traditionally kicks into gear after Labor Day.