Fear, distrust, and division are so much easier to convey in a speech than love and belief. These soft emotions always seem either phony or corny when they are blared over a microphone before a rowdy live audience and skeptical viewers on television.
But Ann Romney managed to thread the needle and come over as honest, sincere, caring, unsentimental and in love. Her testament to Mitt’s character, steadfastness, fortitude, compassion, empathy, and determination did not ring in the least hollow or appear at all self-serving.
But she did more. To those who wonder if Mitt Romney truly understands the problems of the average person, she spoke of their first apartment where the ironing board doubled as their dining room table. She remembered Mitt’s counseling those of his faith who called him for guidance and help. She spoke of their charitable giving. She made us understand the generosity of her husband.
Many have praised Mitt’s skill and drive. But these are the first words ever spoken in public in defense of his capacity for empathy and love.
Who could fail to be moved by Ann’s comment that the “storybook” of her seemingly ideal marriage did not include chapters on M.S. or cancer? And we even find confidence in her blunt assertion that “this man will not fail.”
Because of her speech, he probably won’t.
She gave us a feeling that Romney is from this planet after all, gets wet when it rains, gets cold in the snow, and feels the same pains we all feel. She made us all realize that he is human, not by focusing on his failures but by emphasizing his empathy.
Her positive portrayal and Governor Chris Christie’s interesting refusal to be harshly negative will set up an interesting contrast with the Democratic Convention to follow. The positive, uplifting tone of this Republican Convention will be a pleasant memory to counter the vituperation we may expect from Obama and Co.
Governor Christie’s speech was clearly disappointing. He seems to have forgotten that he was there to praise Romney and attack Obama rather than to build himself up. This master of confrontation would have us believe that he is a virtuoso of bi-partisan co-operation and conciliation. It’s a tough sell. His speech was too New Jersey, too Christie and not enough Romney or Obama.
But, the first night of the convention achieved its purposes. The parade of women and minorities to the podium was impressive (and in some contrast to their relative absence on the floor). Ann did all that was needed to explain Mitt to us and to help us trust him. It will be that much harder for Obama to run negative ads now. We will always hear Ann Romney defending her husband’s heart. We may well still believe criticisms of his head. But, not of his heart. Now he’s no tin man from the Wizard of Oz without a heart.
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