Republican Convention 2012

2012 Republicans Play Copycat to 2008 Democrats

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In 2008, the difference between the two major-party conventions was stark. As detailed in this round-up at the time from Tim Cavanaugh, one of the most striking contrasts was in message discipline:

The Democrats stayed remarkably on-message, inside and outside the convention. New Green Jobs, McCain's houses, and the busted budget weren't just the talking points during the speeches. They were repeated by delegates and guests throughout the week. By comparison, the Republicans were all over the place in their rhetoric, with fanciful calls to repopulate the Midwest, mutually exclusive goals like simplifying the tax code while instituting new tax breaks for various environmental and personal behaviors, constant prattle about special needs kids, and so on.

Republicans this time around have learned from the Democrats. Almost every speech last night valorized "small businesses," decried "red tape," talked with pinpoint vagueness about limiting government and cutting taxes, and vowed that America was coming back, baby!

Even more striking was the similarity between the prime-time Day Ones of DNC 2008 and RNC 2012. Both were designed to introduce America to its putative next First Lady, at the end of an evening drowning in identity politics, hardscrabble family migration stories, non-white-males, and remarkably vague nods toward policy. Both of the handsome and smart wives then gave aw-shucks talks about how they couldn't possibly be more American and normal and human as you, no matter how rich, successful, and educated they are.

It's clear that the people who do competitive politics for a living have arrived at some consensus conclusions: Americans reward vague rhetoric, and punish specificity. It's important for us to bond as pals with the spouses of SCOTUS. And the personal narrative—raising autistic kids, starting a home business, revering an immigrant father who never asked for no handout—is the single most important thing about this politician you've never heard of.

Though this says something troubling about the people who practice such pap, it says something considerably worse about us. And it underlines something we've long known about the man at the top of the GOP ticket: The last thing Mitt Romney wants to be near is a policy specific, particularly when it comes to cutting government

NEXT: Fly the Solyndra Skies: RNC Darling Boeing Benefits from Loan Guarantees, Too

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  1. If I were the God of the Republicans, I’d focus totally on cutting government spending, reducing the role of government in personal and business dealings, and on other measures to improve the economy. That’s it. I’m not even talking libertarian stuff here–just the easy path to victory.

    Americans have shown again and again that we’ll vote for the right platitudes at the right time, so the GOP doesn’t even have to explain what it will cut or how it will improve the economy except to say that it’ll do things differently than the Democrats.

    I’m amazed that they lack this laser focus at a time when the economic morass is the key issue on everyone’s mind.

    1. I’m not voting for you. Who is going to protect my children as I drive them to soccer? The gay sex and drugs are out to get them.

  2. We are so fucked. As long as everyone is stupid and buys this continual heaping pile of bullshit, we are fucked.

  3. Politician: “I will make the best-tasting sausage you’ve ever had!”

    Voter: “How?”

    Politician: “You don’t want to know.”

    Voter: “Works for me.”

  4. I think it should read

    “It’s important for us to bond as pals with the spouses of POTUS.”

    and not

    “It’s important for us to bond as pals with the spouses of SCOTUS.”

  5. I’m still way behind on watching the RNC. I like to watch these events to see what everyone promises they will “change.” I was talking to my co-worker at Dish, and we’ve decided most elections come down to choosing the lesser of two evils. I will miss tonight’s events as I will be stuck at work. I have been recoding the RNC with my new Hopper, and I like to use the Auto Hop feature to skip through the commercials. I can’t wait to see who the mystery guest is, I hear it could be Clint Eastwood or Tim Tebow; talk about extremes!

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