Inside the real Romney
Clint Eastwood was a tough act to follow. But Eastwood also had a tough act to follow.
Members of Romney's Mormon congregation when he served as an ecclesiastical leader gave the most moving speeches of the convention.
Their personal testimony of Romney's character, shown by his interaction with them under extreme family difficulties, revealed a private Mitt Romney, a man who didn't just talk about his religion but practiced it. There were many moist eyes in an arena packed with tens of thousands of Republican delegates, and no doubt in the eyes of television viewers around America. Their stories were real, not ersatz, not manufactured for political gain. They were direct, unvarnished and deeply personal. And as such they were profoundly moving.
No more can any Democrat accuse Romney of being a heartless, soulless seeker of wealth, a vulture capitalist whose achievements were only made possible by stepping on the weak. No longer can any evangelical or Protestant or Catholic say that Romney doesn't share core religious values.
David Brooks of the New York Times, who has been part of the panel of journalists covering the convention for PBS, was clearly touched. He asked why such powerful testimonials have not been an ongoing part of Romney's campaign, with television spots, for example -- why this private Romney has not been shown to the American public.
That such humanizing insights have not been part of Romney's political advertising, Brooks said, amounted to "political malpractice." America needs to know these things.
From Brooks's point of view, it's an excellent point. We would even agree that America should know these things. But Mormons will likely understand the omission. Church service, faith, prayer, tenderness, love -- these are not normally thought of as political coin. They are private matters; they are serious. And if election to the presidency depends on their exploitation, it may be best to let them alone and let the chips fall where they may.
America got a small taste of the private Mitt Romney, and that's good. But let's leave it at that.
And then came "The Speech"
The most important speech in Mitt Romney's political career was not a blockbuster, but it was effective. He revealed himself. And he laid out a clear and compelling philosophy to Americans about the source of the power that creates the jobs and commerce that will turn around the sputtering economy.
Obama's idea of taxing the wealthy is nothing but a plan to starve the economic engine of its fundamental fuel, the fuel of capital.
Sure, there was plenty of posturing and many a sound bite. But Romney's sound bites were different somehow. They carried an underlying truth about where the country stands under Barack Obama and where we need to go. He was not mean-spirited but simply factual. These lines were typical:
"I wish President Obama had succeeded," Romney said, "because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something. ... Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, 'I'm an American; I make my destiny; and we deserve better; my children deserve better; my family deserves better; my country deserves better.' ...
"So here we stand. Americans have a choice. A decision."
Never was a choice laid out more starkly to the American people. It's going to be more government under Obama, or more freedom and prosperity under a free market.
Romney has been criticized in recent months for not laying out specifics of how he will turn the country around. It's true, but in fairness challengers rarely do. Obama himself gave Americans no grist when he was running four years ago. It was all about hope and change. Just believe in me. On Thursday night, Romney fired the first salvo of specifics. His five-point plan to produce 12 million new jobs is precisely what the country needs and most of us know it. Expect this to resonate across the fruited plain. It is practical. It will work.
First, Romney called for an energy moon shot. By 2020, he said, we will be energy-independent by taking full advantage of America's oil, coal, gas, nuclear and renewable energy. This is core economics: fuel to sustain the nation -- and our own fuel, free of the chains of foreign cartels. And it is long overdue.
Other points included choice in education to provide the skills of tomorrow; fair foreign trade; putting America on track to a balanced budget; and a federal government that champions small businesses, the primary engine of job growth.
Of course, "The Speech" will be dissected and critiqued ad nauseam over the coming days and weeks. Democrats will attempt to undermine it. Yet it will stand because it's the correct course. It will stand even if Romney is defeated, because he's right.
Obama and the Democrats seem only to attack success or to attribute it to government. They want to reach into the pockets of success to confiscate its fruits.
It's the wrong answer. As Romney said, "What America needs is jobs -- lots of jobs." The way those are created is by getting a pickpocket government out of the way. And the way to do that is to elect a leader, not a mere office-holder.