Medicare v. Obamacare a Dems-Only Debate? Ann Romney Speech Useless? Optics Win or Fail?


If you're as excited as I am to see Obama Senior's speech at the Republican National Convention tonight, here are a few morsels to pick out of your teeth: 

Why go pro-Medicare? Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan last night posited that he and Obamacare inventor Mitt Romney will defend Medicare against alleged predations by President Obama. Is this a wise strategic choice for Romney/Ryan? Medicare was born in a period of Democratic ascendance, when the Republican Party was a weak sister being administered a slow drip by Northeast Corridor establishmentarians like Nelson Rockefeller. President George W. Bush's effort to establish Republican parentage via the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit yielded mixed results. Medicare Part D itself proved popular among beneficiaries, but voters still do not view Republicans as their preferred stewards of Medicare. The probability that a substantial percentage will change their views on this matter by Election Day is low. So why make this the challenge, when Obama is so weak in so many other ways? 

Was Mitt Romney actually humanized by his wife's speech? One of the pundits whose leavings I examined when making yesterday's roundup of Ann Romney reactions gave his view that history would little note nor long remember Ann Romney's testament for her husband. Sure enough, it's only Thursday and Ann Romney's speech feels like it took place during the War of Jenkins' Ear. It was not a minor task that was given to the former first lady of Massachusetts. Obama leads Romney by eight percentage points among women. Scale it up and that's somewhere around 12 million Americans Romney's got to worry about. I find it hard to imagine Ann Romney's address did much to move that needle. (Is it sexist to refer to working with a needle when talking about a would-be first lady? And why is politics the only line of work where people have to be "humanized"?) 

The optics, dammit, what about the optics? The 2008 Republican Convention was heavy with gloom and certain defeat, but it seemed to me it still followed all the patterns of theater. This year's convention (which I am watching only on the computerwebs from far away) seems to have a much flatter arc. What was with Mitt coming out on Tuesday to embrace Ann after her speech? Isn't it better for the candidate to hold himself at a distance until he comes out duce-style for his big speech on the final night? The point is to get people pounding their knives and forks on the table for the first glimpse of him, to inspire breathless speculation about whether he's even in Tampa yet. He's running for president, not cuddly dad.