Republicans gather in Tampa on Monday for their nominating convention. These quadrennial gatherings lack their historical drama, and in 2012 the outcome is assured. Former Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan will be the party's nominees for president and vice president, the "brokered convention" fantasy scenarios notwithstanding. Some curmudgeons believe the primary system and the pace of modern politics have rendered stately, long-form conventions unnecessary, but these spectacles still play an important symbolic role in setting the stage for the final push out on the hustings.
The GOP ticket will stick to the script that's been developed over the past months and weeks, indicting the Obama administration's failure to deliver on the promises of future prosperity Democrats made in 2008. Jobs haven't been created; economic growth hasn't rebounded; personal incomes have fallen more in the last three years than in any postwar recovery period; and the Congressional Budget Office is predicting another sharp economic contraction ahead. The Republican appeal reaches beyond party ranks. Many independents who joined candidate Barack Obama chanting "Yes we can!" in 2008 are now asking, "Well, why didn't you?"
The Republican convention theme, "We built this," is a mocking reference to President Obama's statement that business owners did not and could never have succeeded without the guiding hand of government. It encapsulates the GOP's appeal to small-business owners and other engines of prosperity that have been frustrated by the Obama administration's countless regulations and patronizing attitude. It contrasts well with the upcoming Democratic "people's convention" slogan, with its undertones of socialism and Carter-era spirit.
The respective party bases are poles apart in more than ideology. Every major survey for the last year has shown that Republicans are fired up and energetic about the election, while Democrats are unhappy and uninspired. In this cycle, Romney supporters are the happy warriors girding for the fight, while Mr. Obama's troops are dutifully slogging their way to November, absent zeal, absent ideas and, lately, absent-minded. The number of Democratic gaffes and other unforced errors mounts daily, such as Mr. Obama misspelling Ohio O-I-H-O and referring to the Navy SEAL commander as "General" McRaven. (Note to the commander in chief: Flag officers in the Navy are admirals, not generals.)
With ten weeks until Election Day, the limping president can't continue to keep losing the daily battle of the headlines. The Obama team's imperative "Forward" seeks somehow to harness energy that doesn't exist to propel his campaign down a shovel-ready highway that was never built.
The party conventions will reflect the respective tones of the campaigns. Mr. Obama's effort has become relentlessly negative and detached from reality. When called on one of her misrepresentations of the record, Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told CNN's Anderson Cooper, "It doesn't matter." This sums up Mr. Obama's "say anything to win" strategy. The Republican convention will be grounded in optimism, evoking themes used by Ronald Reagan and proclaiming that America's best days are still ahead. It will be positive and life-affirming. Tampa will confirm what the electorate already knows: The torch of hope and change has officially passed to new ownership.
The Washington Times
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