QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 8:27 A.M. ET: We sometimes agree with Peggy Noonan here, and sometimes don't. But as a presidential speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, she was superb. And here, in The Wall Street Journal, she offers some advice for Mitt Romney that, I think, is on the button:
If you want to lead America, you have to speak to the fix we're in, and that means addressing spending. But economic probity has a friend called economic growth, and that is what people care so much about—jobs, opportunity, the competitive advantage conferred by good policies. Are we a vital nation able to grow, to take on our true size again?
Emphasis is everything. Emphasize dynamism.
Mr. Romney shouldn't just repeat what he thinks but tell people why he thinks it, what life has taught him that formed his views.
He shouldn't shy away from religion. Why should he? This is America. It was in the practice of his faith that Mr. Romney came, as a bishop of the Mormon church, to become involved in helping those with lives very different from his own. In an interview Thursday night on the Catholic network EWTN, he told anchor Raymond Arroyo that as a "small-p pastor" he learned a great deal about those who feel under siege, lonely, left out. What did he learn? How did his church help him learn it?
He must use humor, for three reasons. One is that wit breaks through and sharpens all points. Another is that it is natural to him. Before the voting in Iowa, he wryly told a friend that the caucuses were like the LaBrea Tar Pits: "No one comes out the way they went in." On a conference call recently, he asked a question of his staff. No one answered. Mr. Romney waited. "Bueller? Bueller?" he said, in a perfect imitation of Ben Stein.
Third, President Obama can't stand to be made fun of. His pride won't allow it, his amour propre cannot countenance a joke at his own expense. If Mr. Romney lands a few very funny lines about the president's leadership, Mr. Obama will freak out. That would be fun, wouldn't it?
COMMENT: That is very solid. The question is whether Romney will take that advice. Romney can be an effective speechmaker. He will have to be effective next week.
Oh, by the way, Noonan notes elsewhere in her column that the major networks are devoting only an hour a night to the conventions, a far cry from the major coverage they used to give. So much for the importance of elections and democracy. But Romney and the Republicans will have to work with what they're given. It is imperative that Romney's speech be delivered in that hour of major coverage. Any attempt by goofballs at the convention – especially the Ron Paul crowd – to throw the proceedings off, must be brutally suppressed. We recall how the hapless George McGovern had to give his acceptance speech at the 1972 Democratic convention in the early hours of the morning because a group of left-wing clowns disrupted the schedule to get in their two cents. Iron rule next week must be the rule.
August 24, 2012