COLUMBIA — By the time you read this, the Republican National Convention will be history — its pomp and oratory supplanted by the Democrats re-endorsement of President Barack Obama for another four years. The Founding Fathers were wise in making this a quadrennial affair — the four years between each state and territory "casting its votes for the next President of the United States" is a welcome respite.
A New York Times editorial saw fit to remind the nation that "Tropical Storm Isaac is more than just a logistical inconvenience for Republicans gathered in Tampa: It is a powerful reminder of Republican incompetence in handling Hurricane Katrina seven years ago and the party's no-less-disastrous plans to further cut emergency-related spending."
In its usual "fair and balanced" mode, the Times failed to mention the utter incompetence of the first responders in their failure to activate an emergency response to the storm at the city (New Orleans) or state (Louisiana) level during Katrina in 2005. In lieu of ordering the evacuation of those in danger, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat, relocated to Houston, leaving the 500 city and school buses he claimed to have in his emergency plan driverless and underwater.
Kathleen Blanco, then Louisiana's governor and also a Democrat, was urged by President George W. Bush on the Friday and again on the Saturday preceding Katrina's coming ashore to sign the authorization required for the federal government to legally come to the state's assistance. Instead, Blanco decided if she invited federal assistance, it would appear that the state had failed; accordingly, the political decision was not to ask for federal help.
There was also the Todd Akin inspired cloud over the convention as neither the pundits, nor Democrats nor GOP would permit it to go away. I won't attempt to excuse Mr. Akin for his utter ignorance under fire — a candidate for the U.S. Senate should be smart enough to stick to the politically sound "I am unapologetically pro-life" instead of venturing into areas in which he is unlearned.
It is easy to assume that Mr. Akin, the father of two daughters, acted in ignorance rather than with malice — however, once uttered, a politician's words are public domain. It is a pity, though, that Todd Akin's behavior did not mirror the same sensibility and respect for women oft demonstrated by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.
The delay caused by Hurricane Isaac did not materially detract from the convention business. The speaking performances by Ann Romney, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Puerto Rico's first lady Luce Vela and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice effectively erased the myth of a Republican "war on women" among reasonable and thinking voters.
Ann Romney was particularly effective in bridging the wife and motherhood gap invented by the class warfare adherents by enumerating the commonalities of raising children and balancing household duties. She also humanized the candidate. Rice electrified the crowd with her personal experiences, highlighting, without malice, the journey from segregation to positions as national security advisor and secretary of state for President George W. Bush.
Probably a victim of too high expectations, the convention's keynote address delivered by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was not the anticipated barnburner. Although well and convincingly delivered, it received mixed reviews with several critics opining that Mr. Christie appeared to be feathering his nest for 2016 rather than promoting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. I take this with a grain of salt — the keynote address's purpose is to promote the party, and Christie left no doubt as to the identity of the candidate.
Republican Party favorite, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, solidified his position as the GOP gold standard with a fiery and good-humored performance that earned standing ovations from an appreciative crowd. Throughout his speech, he alternated descriptions of his own vision of America, dovetailing it with the manner in which he and Romney would govern, and some good-natured and not so good-natured criticism of Obama.
Romney's acceptance speech was neither flashy nor self-aggrandizing — instead it accented the competent, confident and compassionate man recognized by those who know him best. He "humanized" himself by stressing the family values he learned in growing to manhood while opening the book on his own family, faith and love of country.
His discussion of his differences with his opponent were not personal, instead he registered disappointment for the nation that had embraced the hope and change offered by Obama that did not come to pass in the ensuing four years. Romney stuck to a theme of America first by taking care of the families whose love of freedom and work ethic are the bedrock of the nation.
Romney will never appear faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive nor able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. However, his record of near unblemished success in business and in governing promises that he can enter by the front door and do the job with which he is entrusted.
There is a choice on the November ballot — what is past is past. Do we choose charisma or do we opt for demonstrated competence?