Thursday, August 30, 2012

Condi Outshines Paul Ryan

Last night at the Republican National Convention produced a range of oratorical styles, some that dazzled, and some that disappointed.

Condoleeza Rice gave the speech of a lifetime.  I knew she'd be good -- her performance at Mitt Romney's donor retreat a few months ago gave rise to a "Draft Condi" movement.

Still, Rice surpassed all my expectations.  She was magnificent:  intellectual without pretense; beautiful and poised and yet humble.  Her speech reflected her training as a concert pianist in terms of the phrasing and dynamics.  And that's just the style.

The substance made the case for American exceptionalism.  She showed that domestic issues -- particularly the economy -- are linked to our global stature, and can even become security risks.

Certainly the highlight was her personal reflection that she, a little girl in segregated Birmingham, who could not eat at the Woolworth's counter, could grow up to be Secretary of State.  What a great country (and what great parents for instilling that confidence in their daughter at such a time and place.)  I teared up.

Watching Rice, I wondered,  "Why isn't she the nominee?"

* * *

Mike Huckabee gave an outstanding speech, as well. His training as a Baptist Pastor has served him well.  So, too, does his passionate belief in conservative social issues.  What a commanding presence. There was no doubt that Huckabee believed in what he was saying with every core of his being.

 Huckabee's attack on the Obamacare's birth control mandates was in some ways historic, as he, the Baptist Pastor from Arkansas, stood shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic Church, and said that an attack on the freedom of worship of Catholics is an attack on him. Catholics have not always felt this support in the Bible-Belt.  Huckabee's speech gave me hope that the chapter of bigotry against Catholics in the Deep South is closing.

* * *

I had been looking forward to Paul Ryan's speech. Maybe I expected too much.  And Condi and Mike Huckabee left some awfully big shoes for him to fill.  Bottom line:  I was disappointed.

It wasn't a bad speech.  It had some nice lines. He just looked so . . . young.  And despite his stature, he seemed small somehow. He didn't seem like the guy who had gone toe to toe with the President on the budget.

Certainly, he did not have the charisma that Sarah Palin manifested in that same spot on the roster four years ago.

That's alright.  He'll make up for it in the Vice Presidential Debate when he takes on Joe Biden.

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