I was wrong; the Republican National Convention in Tampa was a big success for the party and its nominees. The RNC overcame Hurricane Isaac and the skepticism of the mainstream media to give Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan a boost, evidence of which was already present before Romney gave his stirring speech to the convention and the nation Thursday night. Here are the five “bests” and “worsts” of the 2012 RNC:
1. Best speech: Presidential candidate Mitt Romney narrowly edged his running mate, Paul Ryan, with an emotional, powerful valediction that rallied the faithful and presented him to the nation as a solid alternative to President Barack Obama. The best line of the night: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.” Those words will resonate.
2. Best joke: Clint Eastwood appearing onstage with an empty chair, and that empty chair’s teleprompter. The media–incredulous that anyone would make fun of President Obama so openly, mocked his speech as “bizarre,” but the gesture was a masterstroke.
3. Best new media moment: When Breitbart News and Newsbusters independently busted Yahoo! News for an absurd racial smear against the Romneys and the GOP in general. Yahoo! fired the editor responsible, though his views are hardly unique or unusual within the determinedly left, reflexively anti-Republican media establishment.
4. Best side event: The Beer and Bratwurst event, hosted by the Wisconsin delegation to honor native son Paul Ryan on the day of his big speech. The party included cold Leinenkugel beer and a delightful German band, who wore the lederhosen with pride.
5. Best host city feature: Friendliness. Tampa rolled out the red carpet, and residents were patient and polite, putting up with heavy traffic and the loss of downtown access for the duration of the convention. A good place for a return visit–in better weather.
1. Worst mainstream media bias: The so-called media “fact-checking” of Ryan’s speech, which actually failed to find any “lies” in the text itself, but propagated many new myths that were eagerly picked up by the left in an attempt to discredit the GOP’s astonishingly successful new standard-bearer. In the end, the media did more damage to itself than to Ryan. Few will ever take “fact checkers” quite as seriously again.
2. Biggest flub: Sen. Marco Rubio delivered an inspiring speech, but stumbled as he built to a close, telling the audience they would remember this election as the moment “we chose more government instead of more freedom.” The line as written: “We chose more freedom instead of more government.” Fortunately, the audience seemed to get it.
3. Worst performance: The music playlist at the convention was widely mocked, and for good reason: it consistently trampled the mood and momentum. However, excellent live acts, including legendary guitarist G.E. Smith, did much to undo the damage. Very strong supporting speeches throughout the proceedings, especially by female and minority leaders in the Republican party, also helped keep boredom at bay.
4. Worst gate-crashers: Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz crashed on Thursday, with Rep. Jan Schakowsky and contraception activist Sandra Fluke They refused to speak to anyone but the liberal media, and left after making fools of themselves–and, presumably, after failing to find any free birth control. (Occupy Wall Street, which failed to turn out protesters in the promised numbers, deserves honorable mention in this category.)
5. Worst sporstmanship: President Barack Obama, who not only broke protocol by campaigning right through the opposing party’s convention, but neglected the victims of Hurricane Isaac, devoting time instead to the left-wing fever swamps at Reddit.com. On the bright side, the frantic fundraising emails blasted out several times daily by the Obama campaign throughout the Republican convention provided some comic relief.