Last night, I was pleasantly surprised when Mitt Romney delivered his speech to the RNC.
He was gracious at the beginning; walking through the crowd and shaking hands with delegates and supporters as if to say: hey guys, we’re all in this together. Then at the end, he wrapped up his speech in what I believe to be the most passionate tone he’s ever demonstrated when saying:
“If I am elected President of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future together tonight.”
Romney’s conviction seemed to come alive. But did he risk its effectiveness for the long term by omitting a few things?
Number One: NO Mention of our Military in Afghanistan
What does Governor Palin usually do at the beginning of most speeches and what did she do when talking about her own son and others in her 2008 RNC speech? She first acknowledges our brave men and women in uniform who carry out our country’s humble mission of peace-through-strength across the world.
As Bill Kristol pointed out this morning:
The United States has some 68,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan. Over two thousand Americans have died in the more than ten years of that war, a war Mitt Romney has supported. Yet in his speech accepting his party’s nomination to be commander in chief, Mitt Romney said not a word about the war in Afghanistan. Nor did he utter a word of appreciation to the troops fighting there, or to those who have fought there. Nor for that matter were there thanks for those who fought in Iraq, another conflict that went unmentioned.
To Romney’s credit, he did mention the SEALS in their killing of Bin Laden.
Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order, and Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden. But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat.
In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We’re still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning.
But despite the Presidential intervals of George Bush, Barack Obama, and others, it remains a fact that our great men and women who serve in uniform do so longer than the terms served by Washington D.C. politicians. It’s a real commitment to make. That commitment affects families, friends, children, and communities. That’s why it’s an honorable commitment. It’s a lifetime gig and it is no luxury. Our men and women in uniform deserve mention every time a commander-in-chief or one applying for the job stands to address the country – it’s the epitome of unity.
Number Two: NO Mention of the Tea Party
In what seemed to be an unfortunate theme of the convention, Mitt Romney was not the only speaker to avoid thanking the Tea Party for all they’ve done over the last four years. While nobody sacrifices as much as our brave men and women in uniform do, millions and millions of average Americans who struggled, who suffered hard times and took hits, who got off their couches and took to rallies in 2009 – those folks had a massive impact on the Healthcare negotiating processes including their appearances at the town halls. These “real people” as celebrated in Sarah Palin’s infamous Tea Party video aren’t highly paid political “experts.” They are average Americans – a lot unemployed or under-employed – who are tired of the failed social experiments in this country. They also realize for their children to have a better shot at opportunities, we have to get our government under control.
Such out-of-control government issues include overspending, crony capitalism, and politics behind closed doors. The Tea Party is a “ground up call to action” and are primarily responsible for many of the speakers who took to the floor over the course of the convention who were more-than-happy to praise the Tea Party when it was their own elections which mattered. But in the course of selecting our next commander-in-chief or being a part of that process, they were basically told to sit back this time.
That’s insulting. That’s the truth. And once that “roar of the crowd” fades away, that truth will remain for those same speakers who someday will face election again. They will be dependent on the same Tea Party members they ignored.
Number Three: NO Mention of Gov. Sarah Palin
In the portion of his speech where he paid homage to his mother, Romney said the following:
My mom and dad were true partners, a life lesson that shaped me by everyday example. When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?”
I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Probably the most telling part of the GOP Establishment’s chill towards the Tea Party was their refusal to mention the proud achievement their party recognized when it named its first female Vice-Presidential nominee in 2008. Before many of the women he mentioned became Governors or Senators, the USA already had a female Governor. And while the Republican Party has its impressive list of women, only one got close to the White House. It was a moment of impact and one of history not just for our country and the Republican Party, but for the future of women in politics forever.
To prove the point, Gov. Nikki Haley owes Gov. Sarah Palin a great deal of thanks. It was Palin’s endorsement and strong backbone to defend Nikki Haley during periods of ugly rumors which surfaced during the South Carolina gubernatiorial campaign in 2010. As such Nikki Haley won her election. In addition, both Kelly Ayotte and Susana Martinez were thrilled to receive the endorsements of Gov. Sarah Palin and welcomed her whole-heartedly when she worked hard – along with the Tea Party – in their respective states to make their dreams of winning these elections become realities.
It goes without saying around here how many times Gov. Palin has stuck her neck out for what is right. It also goes without saying that her influence continues to make a massive impact on the House and Senate races this year. Just ask Ted Cruz who won his primary in Texas and talked about the authenticity and effectiveness of Palin’s support just recently.
Palin’s strong support and energy is found in the same principles that force her to stay cemented in her convictions – avoiding the game of D.C. politics and shenanigans. That kind of conviction is Reaganesque, it is Thatcheresque, and there is no Washington expert’s game that can out-live that kind of integrity.
To be fair, perhaps Gov. Palin challenged all the primary candidates a little harder than anyone else did. She advocated for a longer and tougher contested primary. Therefore, on a political scale one could imagine why the establishment would avoid the mention of her name.
Nevertheless, she’s the party’s first woman to sit on a national ticket at any level and it’s our party’s current presidential candidate’s task to demonstrate ability to put differences aside and recognize what is universal. It’s not a matter of current-day convenience. It’s a matter of the same given respect Governor Palin showed in 2008 when she mentioned Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro many times.
If it’s truly time to unite, it’s the responsibility of the current players to reach out to Tea Party Patriots and Palin supporters to close that hole for longer-lasting party enthusiasm.