Political Animal


August 30, 2012 9:49 PM Mittapalooza Live Blog

By Ed Kilgore


* Got the acceptance over with. Good idea since only 24 minutes left officially.

* “Big Heart” not exactly first words that spring to mind in connection with Paul Ryan.

* Mitch McConnell didn’t get memo on “parties always coming together.”

* GOPers seem really concerned about Cuban-American vote this year.

* Whole minute devoted to a completely gratuitous USA! USA! chant. In fact, they’re still chanting over Mitt. Never gets old.

* First major lie of speech: “I wish President Obama had succeeded.”

* Mitt getting hot and bothered over delivery of bromides.

* Wonder if another precious minute devoted to Neil Armstrong was part of plan.

* It’s 10:48. Still not a drop of substance.

* It’s a good guess that George and Lenore Romney would have been horrified by today’s GOP.

* It’s 10:53. Clearly counting on network overtime.

* Okay, there’s the big stump line about Obama. Still cracks up crowd.

* Mitt poor-mouthing about his hardscrabble early days less compelling than his wife’s.

* Getting all shouty over bromides again. Would make helluva Rotary speaker.

* Guess there are Americans who haven’t heard all the 1980 analogies.

* Okay! Super Prime Time Over! Wrap it up, Mitt!

* Some of crowd seem to be cheering jobs sent to China.

* Jobs plan?

* Oh yeah, the Five Pillars.

* With the exception of the allusion to Mitt’s proposal to voucherize federal education spending, this five-point “jobs plan” mostly goals, not plans.

* Quickest dogs whistles on abortion and same-sex marriage ever!

* Modest Mitt!

* Shouldn’t have mentioned fictional “Apology Tour.” Unleashed another round of USA! chants.

* Now we’re really getting into boilerplate, lines Mitt was using in Iowa a year ago.

* Should be moving into something new, or at least altar call, instead of another call-and-response with delegates.

* You know, really struggling to recall what the Big Theme is here.

* And it’s a wrap, after a climax of kinda pointless shouting.

* Biggest indication of the power & originality of this speech is that it didn’t even upset me. What do you think?


* Yes, life always begins in 1980.

* Thought he was about to say: “Mitt’s grandfather, like mine, knew life outside the United States.”

* As Rubio goes into tired GOP talking points, must be cursing agreement to follow Clint.

* “Choice election”—guess the “referendum on the incumbent” officially buried.

* Odd scripture reference, since it’s biblical version of “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs.”

* GOPers really going for that parents-with-kids-who-moved-back-in vote!

* Cameras drawn to Callista ‘n’ Newt as to a car crash.

* Marco’s really in danger of using up some of Mitt’s time. Maybe they figure nets will have to go into overtime.

* Not a lot about Mitt in this very long introduction.

* I’ve watched this guy give really good speeches. This isn’t one of them, in my judgment.

* Mitt coming up from the crowd like Dukakis in 1988. It would be cool if the band played Neil Diamond.

I’m back, and struggling against the temptation to bag this convention and watch college football.

The Mittster is due on the Big Stage in about 30 minutes. The build-up appears to be very soft-core, and focused on building up his tattered biography. At the moment, that involves his Winter Olympics gig in 2002. Doesn’t have a lot to do with serving as President of the United States, but it helps.

At the moment we’ve moved from the Olympics to Ann’s story—with a detour into the whole family saga. Quick mention of George being born in Mexico, but nothing about the hows and whys.

We’re still, of course, in the time slot before live network broadcast, so this biopic is mainly for the benefit of the delegates and loyal Republican cable watchers.

But here we go:


* Yep, as reported, Clint is the “mystery speaker.”

* Conservatives love this Secret Hollywood Underground stuff.

* Clint cried for the unemployed? How’s about the uninsured?

* Wonder if all these hedging words are on the script, or ad libbed?

* Maybe this is working, but has to be oddest big-time convention speech since Admiral Stockdale.

* B’lieve we had a businessman president pretty recently.

* Love hearing a gazillionaire say “We own this country.”

* “Make my day” would have been better if it had been connected to the speech.

* I’ve now seen three convention speeches unmoored to a teleprompter: Carter in 2000, Sharpton in 2004, and now this.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • John on August 30, 2012 10:21 PM:

    That was just the weirdest speech I have ever seen. Did Clint Eastwood even mention Romney by name?

  • gregor on August 30, 2012 10:27 PM:

    What is Rubio talking about?

    Is he talking against GWB?

    'If we are willing to do for our children what our parents did for us ....'.

    What? Obama is stopping us from helping our children?

  • JR on August 30, 2012 10:36 PM:

    Clint lost a lot of credibility when his latest wife and daughters whored themselves out to reality TV.

  • Lee on August 30, 2012 10:39 PM:

    Rubio said that the most important American trait is "a belief in our Creator" or something to that effect. Oh geez, I'm an atheist--I guess there's no place for me in this country, even though I was born here. Ditto, apparently, for the late Carl Sagan (Sagan never actually said he was an atheist, but what he did say made it clear he at least didn't believe in the traditional concept of God).

  • Bo on August 30, 2012 10:43 PM:

    Now I understand why Clint is a dramatic actor -- he's certainly no comedian (except when it's unintentional).
    I still like his movies but he really embarrassed himself tonight.
    Or maybe he was just channelling Johnny McCain! Hmmmmm.

  • Kathryn on August 30, 2012 10:44 PM:

    Maybe this is a new tradition of the GOP. The former president W is not mentioned at all and the current candidate for president is barely mentioned, why I declare, where is the love?

    I gather the Mormon religion and Romney's devotion to it has been introduced into the campaign tonight (I'm not actually watching this horror show) and, if so, does this open up the religion to scrutiny? All religions have plenty of fantastical beliefs and stories but, from what I know of Mormomism, there are some doozies in Mitt's religion. Certainly, they are far removed from evangelicals dogma. Of course, Mitt and Ann are white, so there's that.

  • grooft on August 30, 2012 10:57 PM:

    The oddness of the Clint Eastwood 'interview' with Obama where Clint objected to what he was being told by Obama. ("I can't do that. It's physically impossible.")

    This interview was made even weirder by Clint Eastwood confusing Biden with Cheney.

    What I heard in the dead space in the conversation with 'Obama' was "Go F' Yourself", which is what Cheney screamed in a Senate floor outburst to Senator Leahy.

    Biden was all about "ObamaCare is a BFD!".

  • DJ on August 30, 2012 10:58 PM:

    * Mitt coming up from the crowd like Dukakis in 1988. It would be cool if the band played Neil Diamond.

    Don't you mean Gore in 2000?

  • T-Rex on August 30, 2012 11:18 PM:

    grooft, the point was to let people imagine an angry, screaming black man, rather than the cool and collected man we see in public. A lot of right wingers believe in that screaming black-power maniac no matter what their lyin' eyes tell them, just as they believe that there was no deficit or war in Afghanistan before 2009.

  • John Sully on August 30, 2012 11:21 PM:

    Really, 12 million jobs? Right now U6 stands at 15 million, so he is claiming that he can reduce under and un employment in this country by 80%?

    Get serious Mitt. It sounds good, but anyone who knows the numbers would say "that is ridiculous!".

  • John Sully on August 30, 2012 11:25 PM:

    And after I'd checked the numbers before typing...

    U6 stands at 15% right now, which is about 9,600,000. So Mitt is proposing to eliminate all un and under employment. Yeah, right...

  • T-Rex on August 30, 2012 11:26 PM:

    Did anyone see a glimmer of light in Romney's eyes even once during that series of rubber-stamped talking points? The people playing drinking games out there must be wasted by now. "Apology tour" - drink. Mention of Jimmy Carter -- drink. Etc. etc. etc.

  • J on August 30, 2012 11:26 PM:

    Romney--forever out of touch: He goes after the president for caring about rising oceans, and gains a crowd reaction against the president **WHEN NEW ORLEANS AND ITS CITIZENS ARE UNDER WATER.**

    Hello, Earth to Mitt.


    Also, issues with separation of church and state!!!!
    And we women remain insulted by the policies and platform.!!!!!
    And Romney offered no real policies just platitudes.

    Wants war with Iran? That is how he closes the speech?

  • Bo on August 30, 2012 11:30 PM:

    I truly do believe that The MitWitt wants to make the achievement of success easier for every man and woman in this country.
    This evening, he did a very, very good job of making it easier for President Obama to breeze right through this campaign toward his re-election day.
    Gotta admit though, Willard is THE master of bromide, broadside, bombast, boilerplate and bullshit.
    "No sale", MittWit. Your convention was one big lead balloon capped off by your dramatic reading. The only post-convention you and The Boy Math-Whiz will get is if you go trampolining with Chris Christie after the parties tonight.

  • John Sully on August 30, 2012 11:44 PM:

    And crikey the BLS site is hard to use. He is only proposing to cut U6 by 50%, from 23,000,000 to 11,000,000.

  • Whippet Good on August 30, 2012 11:53 PM:

    Glad you watched this BS so I didn't have to. Appreciated the bullet point format of quick hits. Sounds very stoopid and boring, but not unexpected. The Dem convention won't be watchable either, but at least they won't be basing their entire message on lies.

  • J on August 30, 2012 11:57 PM:

    Mitt likes to fire people.

    ...wonder if he already fired the person that arranged for Clint Eastwood to be there...in prime time slot...

  • Joe Friday on August 31, 2012 12:02 AM:

    Man, Willard sure the hell blinks a lot. Anybody know what the body-language folks say about that ?

  • 4jkb4ia on August 31, 2012 12:05 AM:

    I booed "He threw Israel under the bus," so I was in fact upset.

    I think the theme of the speech was that for all his accomplishments, Mitt is really a very simple, decent person who will take note of common experiences when he is president. Then Mitt lit up whenever anything had to do with business and forgot to be the fake, stiff person that we know, so the effect was somewhat ruined.

  • 4jkb4ia on August 31, 2012 12:07 AM:

    (Really insightful posting today about the Ryan speech)

  • J on August 31, 2012 12:19 AM:

    After this wretched Republican convention, after listening to Paul Ryan spout divisive and fact-checkable lies--and a simple google of Wisconsin websites reveals he does nothing for them.

    As to these obstructionist Republicans like Ryan hoping to unseat President Obama:
    Why are we taxpayers supporting Congressional Republicans at a salary of $174,000 per year, with medical benefits, retirement benefits, and a free gym??

  • emjayay on August 31, 2012 12:22 AM:

    Here's the thing guys - from someone with a degree in Economics (true, but I'm also being self-snarky): The current economic problem is basically a fairly ridiculous Wall Street-driven real estate bubble. The Obama stimulus, which was half of what economists calculated it should be and compromised by the most ineffective tool, something like a quarter or a third tax cuts, did its job in keeping things, particularly state spending which is generally unable to be unbalanced, somewhat intact.

    Being a housing bubble, it takes a long time to work through. House prices, which actually did not falter a bit or not much in some areas, are now turning the corner. The economy will recover and unemployment will go down (and has already gone down in non-
    Chris Christie sort of states) and tax revenues will go up and the budget deficit will go way down, NO MATTER WHO IS PRESIDENT.

    If it's (f*** me) Romney, he will take credit. It will have nothing much to do with whoever is president. If it's Romney, it will just be delayed. Also gay rights and women's rights and health care and the environment and everything else non-economic will be shafted.

    Even at this point, house sales still include a very large per centage of forclosures. That will pretty soon decline, and continue to decline.

    I think Obama was in the thrall of economists and Wall Streeters who didn't really get it, and/or didn't want to. He should have known. It's not really all that complicated. He (somewhat idiotically) hoped the economic dip would be shorter. He was not bold enough, as we have been discussing, in many ways for over the past three years.

    He's also basically a good guy, and Romney is, unlike his very Republican dad, totally execrable.

  • N.Wells on August 31, 2012 12:25 AM:

    Mitt barely mentioned a single specific detail about what he plans to do, and generally the closest he got to specifics were lies (apology tour, raising taxes on small businesses & the middle class, Obama is against success, etc.). Quite a few goals, but almost no details on how to get there. Repeal and replace Obamacare (but with what? - Obamacare is basically his own idea). Very tedious complaining. Criticizing Obama for worrying about rising sea levels, when Louisiana has been flooded twice recently (& WTF Mitt? - have you checked on the average elevation of your money in the Caymans? - you're headed for underwater investments).

    Even so, that was by far the best speech I've heard him give - he almost managed to sound human and actually changed his tone and timber right at the end of his speech. Still, nothing new, not enough pizzazz and humanity, and not a game changer.

    And Clint???? What on earth were they thinking? That was so saddening (and yet also offensive).

  • Scott Morrison on August 31, 2012 12:25 AM:

    Mr. Willard M. Romney declined to even mention his experience as young man of draft age. Typical of his generation GOP politicians. Here's a commentary on that:

    In the year of our Lord, 1967, a time in which young, able-bodied American males were being conscripted to fight for Uncle Sam in the faraway jungles of Southeast Asia, nineteen year-old Willard Mitt Romney received a deferrment from military service so that he could conduct missionary work in an even more hostile environment. Republicans would certainly have called this “cowardice” or “draft dodging” had young Willard been a Democrat, but Willard’s father was the governor of Michigan and a top contender for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, and it came to pass that his Bloomfield Hills draft board deemed he was needed elsewhere for far more important work than mere military service for his country.

    And so it was that young Willard, armed only with his “magic underwear,” bravely accepted the toughest of all possible missionary assignments: to bear witness among that most sinful of peoples, the despicable French. I ask you, who had the tougher duty, the grunt chasing Charley through the jungles of Vietnam with his M-16, or young Willard, going door-to-door in the very capital of debauchery, Paris, professing the validity of Joseph Smith’s revelations? For two and a half long years of the most excruciating hardship duty imaginable, young Willard exhorted the flagrant sinners of the City of Light to give up their wine and their brandy, to give up their coffee, their filthy Gaulois cigarettes, even to give up their mistresses and come to the true church of the lost Golden Tablets. So, I ask you, who endured the greatest hardship duty, the grunts in the jungles of Vietnam, or young Willard in Paris, the very capital of sin?

    Upon returning to his homeland, young Willard attended college at that bastion of academic excellence, Brigham Young, and the Bloomfield Hills draft board conferred an academic deferrment on top of the years he had so selflessly sacrificed among the heathens. Unfortunately, President Richard Nixon held a draft lottery in December, 1969, and Willard had the bad luck to pull an extremely high number, 300, making him ineligable for compulsory military service. This unfortunate turn of events concerned young Willard to such an extent that he decried those who opposed the war as unAmerican for objecting to do their duty, as he would gladly have done if only he had been fortunate enough to have been called. The man is a brave, self-sacrificing hero and should never be accused of being a coward or a draft dodger.

  • exlibra on August 31, 2012 12:42 AM:

    Can you get *that* red and shiny nose from drinking cherry Cola?

  • Edwin on August 31, 2012 12:42 AM:

    @John Sully -
    The 12 million jobs number (250k/mo) is not impossible when you take into account population growth. The economy needs to add ~125k jobs/mo just to keep pace with population growth. Romney boldly proposes to double that rate for all four years of his putative presidency using the magic of supply side tax cuts and unicorns.

  • Tired of Republican Racism on August 31, 2012 1:43 AM:

    As one of the panel of MSNBC said--someone had to put the chair there for Clint Eastwood's jive. He didn't carry it with him to the stage.

    And it ends up seeming really racist, directed at the president--someone went and got a kid's chair, like a time out chair/ you sit in the corner chair, you difficult child--meant for imaginary Obama

    Ironic--my capcha said non toys.

    I think for sure republicans lost the election.

  • Daniel Kim on August 31, 2012 10:04 AM:

    "And it’s a wrap, after a climax of kinda pointless shouting."
    . . . you figure they might have been faking it?