Modern American political history is littered with disastrous –and memorable—moments:
John Kerry’s “global test.”
Howard Dean’s scream.
The first President Bush looking at his watch in 1992.
Michael Dukakis in the tank in 1988.
Gerald Ford on Poland in 1976.
Ed Muskie crying in 1972.
The 1968 Democratic Convention from start to finish.
Much less frequent and thus more memorable are positive breakthrough moments, like Ronald Reagan’s “I won’t hold my opponent’s youth and inexperience against him” quip in the second 1984 debate with Walter Mondale, or his “I paid for this microphone” in February, 1980 as the New Hampshire primary approached.
Then Senator Kennedy’s Houston speech in 1960 is one such moment.
And yesterday’s speech by Mitt Romney may well join this very short list if Romney holds on to the momentum he began and the passion and brains he displayed in Bush Library speech.
The stakes were very high, and many in Romney’s inner circle advised against the address. I was among those pundits who also thought that such a speech could not possibly work in the fractured media environment of today, especially given the rancorous rhetoric directed at people of faith in the U.S. by a secularist-dominated Manhattan-Beltway media elite.
But incredibly Romney’s address was carried from start to finish not only by CNN and other cable nets, but by CNN International, an unheard of level of interest by a candidate for a nomination.
And of course in all but the most jaded, iconoclastic or biased eyes, he carried it off magnificently.
Here’s the objective measure: When was the last time that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer and me all focused on the same subject and all agreed on the merits?
Sure, they will all support a GOP nominee against the Democratic nominee, but on any other subject?
Recall the immigration debate of just nine months ago, and the extraordinarily varied responses to the McCain-Kennedy bill.
Or the Dubai ports deal.
Or Harriet Miers.
The conservative commentariat just does not sing from the same page very often.
Now add James Dobson to the list of enthusiastic endorsers of the Romney speech’s message.
Here’s what Dobson said in a press release yesterday:
“Gov. Romney’s speech was a magnificent reminder of the role religious faith must play in government and public policy. His delivery was passionate and his message was inspirational. Whether it will answer all the questions and concerns of Evangelical Christian voters is yet to be determined, but the governor is to be commended for articulating the importance of our religious heritage as it relates to today.”