Despite the rainy weather, Tampa, Fla., was good for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan; a bit less so for Clint Eastwood. As the cleaning crew sweeps up the confetti and burst balloons, here are the highlights of the 2012 Republican National Convention…
Oddest use of prime time: Clint Eastwood’s improvisation with an empty chair
They seemed to love it inside the hall, but the folks in charge of keeping the program on schedule were going nuts as Clint's nearly incomprehensible riff went on and on and on. Go ahead, make my nominee’s speech run late.
Biggest disaster that turned into an advantage: Tropical Storm Isaac
As the storm approached Florida, the conventional wisdom was that it could ruin the Republicans’ fun. In fact, Isaac infused some drama into the predictable convention scenario and, thereby, probably drew in a few more curious TV viewers. The wild weather’s havoc never got so destructive and deadly that partying in the midst of the storm became an embarrassment. Forced cancellation of the convention’s first day tightened up the show – always a good idea. Democrats should consider lopping off a superfluous day from their schedule too. Less is definitely more.
Most artful purveyor of mendacity: Paul Ryan
The vice-presidential nominee did a whiz-bang job in his speech. Afterward, numerous fact checkers pointed out the many misleading statements and false assertions peppered throughout Ryan’s script. But most convention speeches stretch the truth in order to bring the audience to a conclusion that makes the other guys look bad. Ryan was brazen but artfully skirted outright lies.
Worst attack dogs: Republican men
Tim Pawlenty, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and the rest were repetitive and tiresome in their predictable swipes at President Obama. Pawlenty, in particular, came off like a speaker at a small-town Minnesota Kiwanis Club, unexplainably pleased with himself for telling a string of lame jokes.
Best attack dogs: Republican women
Condoleezza Rice was intelligent, understated and classy. Ann Romney came off as an empathetic, just-between-us-girls hostess on "The View." And New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez told a unique personal story that boosted the Republican brand. She was even brave enough to speak Spanish to a hall filled with people who think “English only” is a great idea.
Faintest praise: Video tribute to the Bush presidents
While Democrats are putting President Clinton center stage at their convention, the Republicans limited the exposure of presidents Bush 41 and 43 to a video of the father and son chatting about the experience of being in the White House. George H.W. Bush has few fans among the convention’s staunch conservatives and George W. remains an embarrassing reminder that the horrendous federal deficit every speaker is blaming on Obama actually was largely the creation of the last Republican president.
Even fainter praise: Video tribute to Ron Paul.
Convention organizers gave Paul a brief tribute on the big screen but would not even allow his vote total to be read out during the roll call of the states – a totally unnecessary affront to all those young libertarian Ron Paul fans whose ties to the Republican Party are already tenuous.
Worst bit of political timing: Holding the GOP convention the week before the Democratic convention
Any bounce coming from this well-presented three days of assaults on the Obama administration is likely to be quickly stifled when the Democrats seize the microphones next week.
Biggest winner: Mitt Romney
His convention managed to humanize him (great use of home movies in the video bio), plus his meandering speech had one sharp attack line that may resonate: “You know something’s wrong with the job [Obama’s] doing as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
Biggest loser: Sarah Palin
With the rise of Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, she is now truly yesterday’s news.