GOP convention wrap

These things used to be a bigger deal, a much bigger deal, and carried more weight and drama than they do now. But they still make for some high drama, some inspiring moments, some revelations, and lots of goofy hats. They are, after all, parties.

This time around, the political parties thrown by the two US political parties wrapped around either side of Labor Day, were shortened to three days from the historical week long events, and attracted less media investment in coverage because people have so many ways to access the information live time and in summary anyway. I don’t know how pollsters estimate viewership, how much of America may have watched, but I tuned in to most of it at the expense of first week action at the US Open Tennis and I’m glad I did. We should hear at least some of the addresses by party leaders and especially the candidates themselves, for vice-president and president. We should see the so-called ‘optics’ each party presents as representing their ideals, and hear the themes and points emphasized.

By many accounts, though I saw it for myself, the Republicans emphasized family, faith, and frankly love. Ann Romney’s speech, which was more like a conversation with a big group of friends, was all about these themes.

Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie focused on love at one point.

And the greatest lesson that mom ever taught me though was this one.  She told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. Now she said to always pick being respected.  She told me that love without respect was always fleeting, but that respect could grow into real and lasting love.  Now, of course, she was talking about women…

But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership.  In fact, I think that advice applies to America more than ever today.

Family and faith were strong points throughout the keynotes, several from young governors and senators who were the children of hard working immigrants.

Prominent members of the Republican Party highlighted faith and family values as being intrinsic to America’s identity as a nation at the party’s 2012 national convention.

America is unique as a country because it “was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights” and that people should be free, said Florida Senator Marco Rubio…

He explained that America stands out because it is united as a country “not by a common race or ethnicity,” but “by common values.”

These values include the conviction that “family is the most important institution in society” and that “almighty God is the source of all we have,” he said…

Americans are “a blessed people,” enjoying opportunities beyond those experienced by most nations throughout human history, Rubio said. He contrasted the American experience of freedom with that of Cuba, which his parents left in order to seek a better life in the U.S.

Rubio described the 2012 election as “a choice about what kind of country we want America to be” and whether the nation will apply “the principles of our founding to solve the challenges of our time.”

The biggest one – principle and challenge – is the idea of what should be the proper size and role of government. The two competing visions of that idea are central to this election and everything else being debated. Like the economy.

Which gets to the two props present in the GOP convention arena, one all week and the other briefly passing through on the final night before the much-anticipated speech by Mitt Romney. The passing one got far more media coverage than the enduring one.

It was Clint Eastwood’s empty chair. However one saw that encounter, it’s surprisingly not a first.

As part of yesterday’s showings at the Republican National Convention, famed actor and director Clint Eastwood startled and amused viewers by mock-debating an empty chair, meant to represent President Obama.

Many who saw the scene thought it to be strange and bizarre, let alone unconventional, for a forum that is usually meticulously directed. Delegates on the convention floor, however, loved it.

But it turns out that the history of debating empty chairs is a rich one, stretching back to at least 1924 when Progressive* vice-presidential nominee Burton K. Wheeler took a stab at an invisible President Calvin Coolidge.

Interesting piece. But speaking of a ‘meticulously directed’ forum, media strategist Mark McKinnon called the GOP convention a masterpiece, and the Eastwood stunt a smokescreen.

Liberals and the mainstream media are having a field day over Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention, mocking it ceaselessly on cable. They’re using it just like the storm beforehand—doing whatever it takes to distract from Mitt Romney and the message he wants to convey. But no matter how crazy it drives critics, Clint pumped up the hall, showed people it was OK to poke fun at President Obama—and left ’em laughing in the aisles. No amount of post-game complaint can change the fact that the GOP—and convention organizer Russ Schriefer in particular—put on a hell of a show.

Heart, brains, and courage. It was all there for America to see on stage. And Schriefer was the man behind the curtain. Given the challenges faced by the party and its nominee, he proved to be a true wizard.

Fighting hurricanes of nature and man (Isaac and Todd Akin), not to mention the very difficult and divided factions within the GOP these days, Schriefer managed one of the most successful conventions in memory.

And the nominee did okay, after all. This NBC report sums up well.

Accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney vowed to move America past what he called the “disappointments” of President Barack Obama’s four years in office if elected to the White House in November.

In a speech that hearkened back to an America typified by Romney’s upbringing “in the middle of the century in the middle of the country,” the nominee argued he was the candidate best suited to rejuvenate a flagging economy.

“Today, the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us,” Romney said.

Using a traditional attack line against an incumbent president, Romney said, “This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right.  But this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office.”

“The time has come to turn the page.”

The nationally televised address, the biggest of Romney’s political career, sought to better introduce him to Americans and erase the low favorable rating from which he suffered before the convention…

“President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” Romney said. “My promise – is to help you and your family.”

That simple statement brought the crowd to their feet in a standing ovation.

And as if to preempt Democratic criticism that he was rooting for failure, Romney said he had hoped for just the opposite.

“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division,” Romney said. “This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. With your help we will do something.”

It wasn’t soaring oratory. But it was gracious. Romney is not a politician by nature. He’s a businessman, a successful one, who is strongly rooted in faith and family and ideals of America’s founding principles.

The convention wrapped without much attention given to the presence of the enduring symbol that hung over it all week.

The debt clock. Just as well, it’s nerve-wracking to watch.

The Democrats won’t hang that over their gathering, at least not visibly, and their convention is about to begin.

At least I got some weekend tennis matches in there, in between.

First Lady fashion

This is not what I normally write about. Not that it’s not interesting to see how some very high profile women in the news dress, from wardrobe to accessories and all. I actually pay attention to that, wondering to myself where some of them get some of these cool clothes, since I want to look my best but hate to shop and have expensive taste and a low budget. But  now the media are writing about these things, and, talk about expensive taste…

They’re looking at Michelle Obama and Ann Romney.

While the political fashionistas had a field day this week with Ann Romney’s nearly $1,000 blouse, she is not the only presidential candidates’ wife with expensive taste. Despite her penchant for more affordable clothing, first lady Michelle Obama also has a pricey wardrobe.

From Balenciaga and Helmut Lang to Michael Kors and Marchesa, the first lady has been known to wear some big-name, and expensive, designer fashions. Last week alone, Mrs. Obama was spotted in two different L’Wren Scott cardigans, priced between $2,000 and $3,000.

What?!

It should be noted, however, that Mrs. Obama is also well-known for boosting sales at the more affordable J. Crew and has been seen shopping at the discount store Target.

Yes, by media given the photo op notice.

But  back to that ABC story

Mrs. Romney’s decision to wear Reed Krakoff’s silk bird-printed design on morning television raised eyebrows earlier this week. The blouse retails for $990. With the state of the economy a key campaign theme for their husbands, both women’s fashion choices will likely be heavily scrutinized in the run-up to election day.

And there’s the point I want to make. That sentence is key.

With the state of the economy a key concern for voters in the US in this presidential election, which makes it a critical issue in the campaigns of both candidates, the media are focusing on their wives wardrobes. And not only that, assuring us that those wardrobes will probably “be heavily scrutinized in the run-up to election day.” Oh, really?

Are the people as concerned about this as the media? Have the media scrutinized high ticket fundraising dinners commanding about $35,000 a couple? Or is that per ticket? Do the 99 percent pay close attention to these things?

No. The majority of Americans are most concerned these days about jobs and prices and finances and paying their mortgages. Even a chunk of the Occupy movement has directed their focus on the SEC and banks and the federal regulatory process.

There’s an extraordinary amount of attention on women this year, a political calculation and strategy. When the administration announced in late January that it was mandating employer-provided insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, the controversy that erupted over its violation of religious liberty was spun into a ‘war on women,’ was was and is ludicrous.

Few media outlets picked up on this.

Women lost out in the jobs market in March, according to an analysis of the latest government figures.

Male participation in the workforce was up 14,000 while female participation fell 177,000, according to the labor department’s latest figures.

“This recovery has not been great for women,” said Betsey Stevenson, assistant professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school…

“I am concerned about what is happening with female unemployment,” said Stevenson.

I am concerned about what is happening with identity politics, gender and racial politics and class warfare. And now with attention fixed on the vice-president and president declaring their “support for gay marriage,” pollsters are doing a brisk business in predicting who benefits politically and what this may mean to the candidates and their support bases.

This is all being used to distract attention from the impact of the economy and its ramifications on Americans of all styles and stripes. It’s a political fashion.

And I’m not buying it, either.

‘Working mothers’ is a redundant term

I remember being very impressed many years ago hearing a man of celebrity status earnestly credit his wife in an interview with having the toughest job in the world. She worked in the home raising their children, and he marveled at it, saying it was far more demanding than what he did.

That came to mind last week when I heard the remark Hilary Rosen made about Ann Romney. It came to mind again when I read this piece about it in the Weekly Standard.

I, and every conservative I know, have been eagerly polite, warmly encouraging to women who chose to work—from the very beginning, from the 1970s or ‘80s, when working women first changed the national landscape.

But that’s not the way liberals play it.

Not one Republican of national standing or any importance has ever announced that working mothers prefer dollars to their children’s happiness; that working mothers have chosen to let their children suffer a little, cry a little, and keep a little more sadness inside to satisfy their own vanity or avarice or (far more often) their husband’s avarice. Nor have I ever said such things to a friend, an enemy, anyone; I’ve never allowed anyone associated with me to say those things, because (this might be hard for Ms. Hilary Rosen to grasp) I don’t believe them. I don’t want to denounce working mothers, or any mothers. Working mothers do their best by their own lights. Most of them try their best to do right, as nearly all Americans do.

But that’s not the way liberals see it.

Nearly all men welcome the presence of women in the workforce because, on the whole, they get on better with women than with men. This is called “biology.”  Conservatives, moreover, back away automatically from any savaging of women. This is called “chivalry.”

But liberals do it differently.

Some liberal men are cheering Ms. Rosen on. No doubt their wives work. More power to them. Probably their mothers also work; but some of these liberals are as old as I am, and perhaps their mothers did not work—until the 1970s, most mothers didn’t. Perhaps their grandmothers didn’t work. Most liberals, even your average liberal who is 22 and majored in communications or business psychology, can find a grandmother or great-grandmother who didn’t work. And it used to be that Americans stood up for their mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers. My wife doesn’t work, and I’m grateful to her for all she’s done for our children and our family and for me.

Money was not invented in 1970.  It’s always been good to have.  And even if my mother had worked, I’d be just as grateful to my grandmothers, not only for what they did for me when I was a child and young adult but for what they did for my parents.  Many conservatives, many Americans feel this way. This is called “gratitude.” But evidently, liberals see things differently.

This is the president’s affair now. I don’t need his apology or want it, but I am standing by to see whether he will apologize like a man to Mrs. Romney.

At last check, he declared the controversial comments ‘ill-advised’ and comments about spouses unacceptable. However, Hilary Rosen did apologize to him.

But Obama supporter Bill Maher took the offensive remarks further and made them more crass, drawing bi-partisan criticism just as Rosen did last week.

…Obama’s former domestic policy adviser also voiced concerns on Sunday.

“You know, the language, the sentiment are problematic,” Melody Barnes said on ABC’s “This Week” when asked whether the president needs to distance himself from the comments. “And the campaign has — and the president has said, look, the civility … it matters. The way we talk to each other matters. And they’re going to have to, as you said, make a decision.”

As Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave told me Monday, their silence is deafening.

A “game-changer in the fight for female voters”

Just when liberal women were angrily trumpeting their bogus claim that the GOP has a ‘war on women,’ a high-profile liberal female Democrat drops a bomb on the wife of Gov. Mitt Romney.

Which The Hill reported as “a gift” to the Romney campaign. Really.

Hilary Rosen’s comments that Ann Romney had “never” worked outside the home triggered a new round in the culture wars and provided an opening for Republicans to close a gender gap between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Both parties seemed to sense that the veteran Democratic strategist’s criticism of the stay-at-home mom could be a game-changer in the fight for female voters.

Obama’s campaign sought to distance itself from Rosen, an adviser to the Democratic National Committee, and Romney’s campaign put the candidate’s wife on television, where she urged Rosen to “respect” the choices of other women.

“Look, I know what it’s like to struggle,” Ann Romney said on Fox News.

“Maybe I haven’t struggled as much financially as much as some people have,” said Ann Romney, who has battled breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. “I can tell you and promise you that I have had struggles in my life.”

Ann Romney, who has emerged as a strength of her husband’s campaign, then defended the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people who are struggling, and that’s why we’re running,” she continued.

She also defended her husband’s respect for women and his record of female advisers…

Obama has opened up a 19 percentage point lead over Romney among female voters, according to some polls, and Romney’s campaign this week has been doing everything it can to try to close the gap.

Rosen’s remarks on CNN Wednesday night, in that context, were a gift…

Rosen initially showed few signs of backing down on Thursday. On Twitter, Rosen responded to becoming part of the latest campaign controversy by tweeting, “Bring it on!” But under heavy fire from her own party, Rosen issued a statement of apology to Ann Romney later in the day.

“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended,” Rosen said in the statement. “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”

Wait. What?

Suddenly it’s a “phony war”? What a tattered web they weave…

The coverage filled news and social network communications media on this for the past 24 hours. Elizabeth Scalia nailed it well here.

There is irony in Rosen sneering that Ann Romney knows nothing about working women, while she, Rosen, supports an administration that pays its female employees less than men. But I digress.

Rosen seems to truly not get why people, especially women (both working and at-home) took offense at this. In Rosen’s shallow world, where formal credentials matter to an excessive degree, and “what you do” matters far more than the person you actually are, Rosen’s remarks were seen for the rather elitist, class-warfare cues they were, (those rich Republicans are so out of touch with the struggling proletariat) but more importantly they brought back memories of Hillary Clinton saying she wasn’t “some little woman standing by her man, baking cookies…” and of Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s wondering if Laura Bush had ever worked a “real” job and the understanding that Michelle Obama had a $300,000 a-year job created for her out of whole cloth, and then discontinued when she left for the White House.

One highly doubts that if either Bill Clinton, or John Kerry or Barack Obama had suggested he looked to his wife to get a sense of women’s economic concerns, Rosen would have for a moment thought those women lacked expertise in the realities of raising a family and earning a paycheck. And yet, Hillary Clinton, while she surely worked, had a governor’s mansion and a lot of help; she was never driving kids to soccer in a beat-up car; she probably never had to figure out how to stretch a pound of chopped meat through supper and the next day’s lunch while wondering if she had enough gas — at $4 a gallon — to get to work the next day; Teresa Heinz Kerry, of course, also had the help — the servants, cooks, chauffeurs — and Michelle Obama’s paychecks and circumstances hardly relate to the realities of most working women.

None of these women have lived the “reality” of most working mothers, any more than Mrs. Romney has. None of them.

She’s really only getting started here.

Well, excuse me, but I really must ask, how the hell does Rosen know what Ann Romney does or does not know? Does Mrs. Romney staying home mean her curiosity and intellect were drained from her, and she therefore reads nothing, explores nothing, studies nothing?

Ann Romney has at her disposal precisely the same economic records and reports that the privileged Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Kerry or Mrs. Obama would use to educate themselves on the issue, of “struggling working moms”. For all Rosen knows, Mrs. Romney has, through observation and study, become a freaking genius on the economic realities of working women, because learning is not confined to classrooms (in only the “correct” schools) and human people have the capacity to understand a great deal, and even to become wise on some issues, because they are interested and curious, and because they think.

Of course, I don’t know what Ann Romney knows or doesn’t know, either — but as a woman who preferred to give up a salary in order to stay home with her kids, even though it meant rolling coin for haircuts, I’m willing to give her a benefit of a doubt. I’m willing to actually find out what Romney knows before sneering at her.

I know Elizabeth Scalia, and she wouldn’t sneer at Ann Romney or any other woman devoted to raising her children and serving charitable organizations and countless needy while supporting her husband’s goals to serve the country no matter what she knows or doesn’t know. And that’s the point that’s so clearly at the center of this illustrative series of events.

The ‘war on women’ claim in the 2012 presidential campaign is bogus, while the real one that wages on was launched quite a while ago by the pro-abortion contraceptive culture most visibly at work in the January takedown of the Susan G. Komen foundation by Planned Parenthood over Komen’s plans to stop funding the abortion giant, and the late January announcement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs would become mandated insurance coverage as “preventive care” for women.

Elizabeth has a lot of links on that blog post worth reading. Including in the updates.

UPDATE III:

Rosen makes apologetic statement and writes: “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”

If by “substance” you mean the real phony war, which is the Democrat’s utterly fabricated “GOP war on women”, then I have to say is: Dear Ms. Rosen, You guys, first!