My wrap on Chris Christie and Ann Romney's speeches is over at Greg's place. Short version: she was pretty good, he was okay, but what a substance-free party they are.
To add on to that a little, after a long day of convention watching...
Quite a few people noted during the day noted how remarkable it was that they build the entire day around an out of context quote from Barack Obama; they spent the day asserting that, yes, indeed, we did build that.
Only they didn't, really. The best one was the guy from Nevada whose entire business, apparently (according to him, that is) was getting government contracts...I think it was for road signs. And how disappointed he was when the stimulus didn't give him any new business. But all day long, we heard speaker after speaker start to explain how they, alone, had built their business, only to eventually credit their family, their workers, their communities.
Well, actually my favorite was the talk-show host who scolded Obama because God, it seems, was really the one who built America. Which, you know, is actually a lot more consistent with what Obama said than what the GOP theme of the day is, but never mind that. It sounded like a good rebuke.
Which really was all they had today. And, for what it's worth, is probably okay, as far as WH 2012 is concerned. You don't convert people through clever arguments at the conventions; you furnish those who really are inclined to vote for you but haven't quite accepted it yet for whatever reasons with acceptable reasons to do do what they want to do anyway. So really a day full of substance-free nothing may be suboptimal, but it sure beats culture war or Tea Party crazies.
That said...it really was an amazingly substance-free day. I know, I know; Republican policy planning shouldn't be expected to necessarily have the detail that liberals have. But there's just nothing there. It's Father Guido's five-minute university, GOP version. Foreign policy? Exceptionalism. Economic policy? Deficits are bad. Anything else? Energy? Drill. Anything else? Nope, that pretty much covers it. Again, for most voters, that's not going to matter. The problem is that it's all they have, as far as I can see.
The other question, I suppose, is whether basing the convention on lies (such as the welfare thing) and out-of-context scare quotes really works with undecided voters. It sure seems to me that the previous idea that Barack Obama is a good man who just isn't up to the job should play better than the idea that Obama hates America and, in particular, is actively hostile to small business. On the one hand, anyone inclined to vote for Republicans should respond to either. On the other hand, any really undecided voters who check out both conventions are just not going to hear anything at all next week that will confirm what they're hearing this week, and it doesn't strike me that they're hearing a message that they could believe even if they leave next week finding Obama to have good intentions. But that's extremely speculative; it seems to me it should work that way, but who knows if it will.
One last thing before I let the first day go. I know it doesn't matter at all -- at all -- whether convention days have coherent themes or not. But for whatever it's worth, the one thing that would have really capped off the day and made the GOP look a lot more intellectually energetic would have been a strong, sane, argument for small-government capitalism. A speech like that would have very much appealed to centrist pundits. Would it play to voters? Only a very well-written one (not that they would object to it otherwise, but it runs the risk of being dull). So, who knows, maybe platitudes and cliches from Christie was a safer path. But for whatever it's worth, it would have tied together the whole day a lot better. And, again for whatever it's worth, it would fit a lot better with the actual Mitt Romney than cliches about leading even when your ideas are unpopular, which just doesn't match the way most people think about Romney at all, and is unlikely to change anytime soon.
I suspect I'm going to duck more of the second day, but we'll see. I should mention, for those who read my earlier item:: a terrific rendition of the nomination roll call of the states, and I totally nailed South Dakota, Corn Palace and all. So I got what I wanted out of this convention.