1. Romney gave a win by default speech. The theory seems to be that what is holding the marginal voter(s) back from supporting Romney is that they think he is a guy who doesn’t care about anything but making a buck for himself and that “humanizing” (I hate that word) is the key to winning over those voters. Maybe. The stuff about his parents and his kids were genuinely affecting. Is anyone going to vote for him because he revered his parents and misses when his kids were little? Some will think better of him if they remember the speech (which they might well not.) I agree with Ramesh Ponnuru that at least as big a problem as “humanizing” Romney is explaining how his preferred policy agenda will benefit the voters he is trying to get. He could hardly have glossed over his policy proposals more quickly. The rest of the stuff about how the economy is lousy, and how we need a businessman who understands the business of business was an improved version of the kind of speech he would give after winning a primary. He replaced the stuff about Obama European socialism with open appeals to swing-voters who had gone for Obama last time. It reminded me of McCain’s 2008 convention speech that forever circled back to the personal and similarly failed to invest in explaining any kind of policy agenda that might doing anything for anybody. But McCain did get a bounce out of the convention and he didn’t lose because of that speech. My sense is that Romney’s speech sold persuadable voters short
2. I thought Rubio gave a really good speech. I can’t really tell because for some reason Rubio’s rhetorical style in set piece speeches doesn’t work all that well for me. I like him fine in interviews and like him a lot in debates. He was terrific taking apart Charlie Crist. Rubio flubbed a line toward the end but everyone knew what he was trying to say so it didn’t really hurt the speech any. When they showed Ryan applauding I wondered if Ryan was thinking about he and Rubio going at it in the 2016 primaries.
3. I tuned in NBC’s (not MSNBC’s) post-speech coverage and was shocked at how hostile and snarky the coverage was. I think this is important because NBC’s business model does not depend on making liberals feel good about themselves. They are trying to reach a mass audience. It was just Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell taking thinly disguised shots at Romney. My sense is that they’ve really bought into Obama’s reelection and, while they aren’t actively conspiring to help him, they’ve decided to avoid trying to make an active effort to keep their biases in check. And on some level they know it. Whenever I hear someone from a liberal-leaning Culturally Biased News outlet talk about the Republican “deep bench” I sense a kind of unspoken promise to be less biased next time when Obama isn’t on the ballot.