WHAT OTHERS SAY: GOP convention speakers failed to offer concrete solutions

Friday, August 31, 2012 | 12:02 p.m. CDT

Mitt Romney took his turn at blasting and belittling Barack Obama on Thursday night, working too hard on twisting “hope and change” into a weapon rather than offering ideas to woo the disappointed to his side.

In his speech accepting the GOP nomination for the presidency, Romney tried to cozy up to those who once backed the current president and now feel disaffected and are hurting financially. Choose me, he said, and let me get the unemployed to work and end the divisiveness that tears at our nation.

But Romney, in his workmanlike speech, never presented a convincing case for how he would solve the nation’s steep challenges.

Capping off a divisive political convention, Romney strove to present himself as a candidate of hope and unity. He promised bipartisanship. It was a bit too familiar, and a little short of convincing.

With no suspense left in political conventions, the events become well-orchestrated pep rallies, offering giddy delegates and politically inclined TV viewers a capsule summary of the campaign. For the GOP, the just-completed venture in Tampa could be titled “We Built It” — to bash the other guy.

Audiences got a heavy helping of speakers intended to show the GOP as diverse, woman-friendly, beneficiaries of great parents and survivors of hard-luck life stories. But in the end, they did little to replace the GOP’s “party of no” reputation.

More troubling: the misstatements, omissions and deceit.

Romney promised no higher taxes on the middle class, overlooking the tax breaks middle-class families experienced during Obama’s tenure. While he praised immigrants, he neglected to mention his position favoring self-deportation and against the DREAM Act.

He had a lot of help in the not-quite-full-disclosure speeches.

Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate, established himself as the leader of the conservative movement with a muscular speech that set the convention hall afire. Unfortunately, much that Ryan said was hypocritical or patently dishonest.

He criticized Obama for ignoring a bipartisan debt commission report, not mentioning the report never found its way to Congress because too many of the commission’s own members voted against it. One of those “no” votes was Ryan.

He blasted Obama for his plans to capture $700 billion in anticipated Medicare spending over 10 years and use some of that money to expand Medicaid. But Ryan’s own budget plan cuts the same elements of Medicare, for deficit reduction.

Even one of Ryan’s best lines was tarnished by omission. He appealed to young voters living in their parents’ homes, “staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” But he offered no specifics on how a Romney administration will get those young people employed.

The storm-shortened convention had its uplifting moments.

Ann Romney successfully spread love to the crowd, to her husband and to women at large.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered a respite from name-calling, accurately calling the crisis in K-12 education the civil rights issue of the day, and offering a more welcoming line on immigrants.

Overall, though, the 2012 Republican National Convention did much to fire up the base and little to inspire the rest of America.

Expect similar fancy staging, weird outfits and over-the-top speeches at next week’s Democratic National Convention. And after that, may we please interrupt the disturbing, secretly funded commercials for some specific proposals for moving this nation forward?


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Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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