Romney's convention managers made some correct and some interesting decisions. First, don't relitigate 2008, as some conservatives would love to do.
Romney and Ryan both acknowledged the hopes for change motivating so many erstwhile Barack Obama voters. They looked back on his record in office more in sorrow than in anger.
Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis eloquently described his own disenchantment with the president. You can see why they didn't want to air a minute of his talk on MSNBC. It would have undercut the cable channel's relentless narrative that Republicans are racists.
There was a special callout to young voters, who went 66 to 32 percent for Obama last time, when Ryan talked of twenty-somethings in their childhood bedrooms, "staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. "
And there was a reach-out to the unquantifiable but undoubtedly large number of voters who feel that it would be a bad thing for Americans to be seen rejecting the first black president.
That's the one reason I can think of for why the Romney people made the otherwise puzzling decision to put on Clint Eastwood at 10:00 Eastern, when the broadcast networks began their hour of coverage. It's summed up in one sentence: "And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go."
This was not as tightly scripted a convention as the George W. Bush or Bill Clinton conventions. Eastwood spoke without a teleprompter and so, very effectively, did Condoleezza Rice.
In back-to-back speeches, Ann Romney talked about "love" and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that respect was more important than love. That seemed dissonant.
Actually, the two themes are reconcilable. A leader acts out of love for the people but, as Machiavelli taught, prefers to be feared than loved.
But slicker convention management would have rewritten one of the texts. The Romney folks left interpretation to a mostly hostile press and, they hope, a more sympathetic public.
I suspect the point was not to seem slick. Romney has a cool demeanor, and the convention was a device to humanize him.
He and his wife described their personal lives in ways that resemble those of almost everyone. The kids roughhousing, the misfortunes that come sooner or later: They may have more money, but their lives are like those of lots of people.
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