Well, the Republican Nation Convention came to a close last night, with a parade of strange speeches, a night that can be best described as: Running on Empty.
First we had former Florida Jeb Bush making an impassioned speech: Please stop picking on my big brother.
“My brother, well, I love my brother. He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. And during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe. Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies. You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions, and you haven’t done it.”
Well, first of all, I’ve never heard President Obama say “It’s all Bush’s fault”. The American people do think it’s Bush’s fault – recent polling indicates that 62% of Americans still blame President George W Bush’s administration for the steep economic recession. And they’d be right – economists overwhelming pinpoint December 2007 as the start of the recession. The same economists pinpoint the summer of 2009 as when industrial production and real GDP hit rock bottom, and growth resumed in the fall of 2009 – as the stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Obama began to take effect. Yes, the recovery hasn’t been anywhere near as strong as it needs to be, but we don’t blame Bush for that – we blame the Republican House, which, assisted by their filibustering comrades in the Senate, have done everything they can to sabotage the economic recovery, in their number one priority: making President Obama a one term President. Yes, while the President hasn’t personally blamed Bush for anything, some Democratic politicians and pundits have. That’s what politicians do. But at least they have a leg to stand on. As late as 2004 in campaign fundraisers President Bush was blaming Bill Clinton for the recession he “inherited”. In August 2002, Mitch Daniels, then Bush’s head of the Office of Management and Budget, announced on Fox News:
“He [Bush] inherited that recession from the previous administration. Case is closed.”
Predictably, the drumbeat from the Bush team was reproduced with zero distortion from the always reliable media. While Fox News’ Sean Hannity made the argument during the November 2002 mid-term election “this president — you know and I know and everybody knows — inherited a recession”. Those pesky economists again? They pinpoint March 2001 as the start of the 2001-2002 mild recession.
And then there was that bizarre appearance by Clint Eastwood lecturing an empty chair. Now, I love Clint Eastwood to death, so I’ll go a little easy on him. He is 82, and it showed – but hey, if I make it to 82 I’ll be happy enough just to still be breathing air and standing up on my own power, not giving a speech to thousands packed into a convention hall. Clint certainly set the Twitter universe tweeting with humor and sarcasm, if Clint even knows what that is (the Twitter part, I’m sure Clint knows humor and sarcasm). NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson said that watching Ann Romney during Clint’s “speech” was like watching a mother of the bride “listening to a drunken wedding toast.” In the end, the crowd egged Clint on to repeat a line from his Dirty Harry movie: “Go ahead. Make my day”. I imagine the genius in the Romney campaign who dreamed up the idea of inviting Clint to be their “Mystery Speaker” was thinking more of a line from Clint’s 2008 movie Gran Torino: “Get off my lawn!“.
If you missed Clint’s speech, here’s a link to the full speech (around 12 minutes) on YouTube. Destined to be a classic.
And then there was Mitt, giving his acceptance speech with a wistful smile that looked like he was ready to burst into tears at any moment, as he accepted the nomination he’d been trying to win for the past five years, as he serenaded us with empty promises:
“I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. Paul Ryan and I have five steps. First, by 2020, North America will be an energy independent by taking invented of our oil, are coal, our gas, our nuclear, and renewables. Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance. Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements, and when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences. And fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish, as have those in Greece. We will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget. And fifth, we will champion small businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small businesses the most, and it means we must rein in skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
You have a “plan” to create 12 million jobs? That’s conveniently the current number of those unemployed and seeking work, but still, it sounds just swell! Care to spill any actual details? Energy independent? I’ve been hearing that since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, when I could only buy gas on even numbered days, and waited in line a half hour to 45 minutes to buy gas on the days that I could, and we import twice as much oil now as we did then. But do tell – what’s your plan to do that? More trade agreements? The ones that ship our jobs overseas? We’ll assure every entrepreneur that we’re not Greece? OK. Reduce taxes on business, i.e., the wealthy, those mythical “job creators”? And replace “Obamacare”? With what? A voucher system to replace Medicare?
Good luck selling that bill of goods.