If you thought that party conferences in the UK were bad at being disconnected from reality, you haven’t seen the spectacle that is the US party convention. Right now, that of the Republican Party in Tampa, Florida is winding down, and next week in Charlotte, North Carolina the Democrats will meet to confirm the rather obvious nomination of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Such is the predictability of these events that the amount of media coverage was scaled back this year. Even conservative voices like Bill O’Reilly were suggesting that four days was just too much (he asserted that two was quite enough, one for the Veep nominee and one for whoever is tilting at the Presidency). But what of the GOP nominee Mitt Romney, after his acceptance speech last night?
There was very little of the rapturous enthusiasm displayed in the hall finding its way to the pundits. “Solid and businesslike” ... “good enough” ... delivered “competently” ... “workmanlike”. Even on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), Brit Hume had to admit that “This was a solid speech. This was a good speech. This was not a great speech”.
That was one way of putting an appearance that was partly upstaged by Clint Eastwood simultaneously wowing the Convention while looking somewhere between strange and embarrassingly bad elsewhere, as he pretended that an empty chair next to him on stage was occupied by the Prez. And no, Clint didn’t speak for six minutes, or only five. He rambled on for a lot longer.
At this stage in 2008, John McCain and Sarah Palin were temporarily well ahead in the polls. It’s doubtful that Romney and Paul Ryan will be this time round. But some pundits have insisted in talking up the GOP ticket, with Tim Stanley at the Telegraph, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, enthusing over “a game changing convention speech ... rebranded as a centrist, he looks like a winner”. Ba-lo-ney.
Stanley needs only to look over at his fellow conservative pundit Iain Martin, who chose instead not to talk about the Romney speech but pretend that Clint’s longeurs were not really so bad, to know that the enthusiasm for Mitt is not exactly universal. But it was supposed Labour member and Bozza voter Dan Hodges that gave the Tel faithful the news that many will not want to hear.
“Clint Eastwood can talk to as many chairs as he likes. Mitt Romney is still going to lose in November” was the Hodges headline, summing it up in one. The serious campaigning has hardly started, but the GOP ticket has already been mired by Romney’s business activities, the rape and abortion ruckus, and the desperate deployment of “birther” jokes. Where will they get the votes?
They won’t. And some pundits ought to get real and stop pretending otherwise.