Mitt Romney threw a long ball today and scored. There can be no objective argument against that conclusion. Why? Because Romney is running for the GOP nomination, and his remarks, both in delivery and substance, were lavishly praised by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, and James Dobson, not to mention Mark Steyn, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer -and these were just the seven people I heard on a long drive south to San Diego and then in a hotel room before leaving to post this and give a speech. I am sure when I get a chance to review the blogs more widely late tonight, there will be many others, though in fact every single one could denounce Romney and it wouldn’t matter given the line-up of assessments just listed, to which I add mine from earlier today.
Here are seven of the most influential conservative commentators in the U.S., and their opinions on the Romney success are all aligned with mine. Thus, objectively, the speech cannot be judged as other than an extraordinary success for Romney. It does not, of course, guarantee him the nomination, but no other Republican has had a comparable day since the campaign began, and Romney’s triumph comes four days before the absentees are available for casting in New Hampshire.Romney’s success today has also clearly panicked Mike Huckabee who was on with Glenn Beck tonight warning that the “ruling class” in America is growing more distanced from the people –the sort of arch-populist class warfare nonsense which has never had a home in the GOP mainstream.
My pal-in-punditry J-Pod argues that “as a matter of rhetoric, it tended toward the bland,” but even if I agreed with him –and I don’t– so what? It was a political speech designed to move voters toward Romney while anticipating the general election beyond, and as such it succeeded beyond what any observer of politics was predicting, and it did so by appealing to the best aspects of American character. The Dobson announcement (see below) is the sort of thing that “moves the needle” as Fred Barnes put it on Fox news tonight. The angry e-mails I am receiving from supporters of other candidates and especially from anti-American lefties underscores the reality that Romney had a great, great day.
It is hardly a secret that if I had to vote today, I would vote for Romney, or that I think Mayor Giuliani is a superb candidate and would make an excellent nominee. If Rudy gives a great speech with the stakes purposely raised and the entire national media (and a lot of the international media) focused on it live during its delivery, I’ll be the first to praise him as well. Good analysts grade on the achievement, not the hope.
Some early takes on the speech from conservatives were less enthusiastic than mine, and that just means that a pundit or two had a bad morning, and their analytical skills of the GOP race less trustworthy than before.
But to persist in minimizing the success of Romney’s speech or the talent and passion with which it was delivered calls to mind my favorite Irish saying: When everybody says you’re drunk, you’d better sit down.
Finally, a note to my angry e-mailers: It doesn’t matter that you don’t like Rush or Dr. Dobson, or that I thought Harriet Meirs got a raw deal. Your opinion of who ought to be the GOP nominee doesn’t matter beyond your vote, and then only if you are a GOP voter, which most of you aren’t. The folks listed above matter. Because they earned the respect of the voters who decided the past two presidential elections and who will decide the next –the patriots and the values voters, the investment class and the national security-minded.
I will be devoting the entire show tomorrow to the speech. Had I been on the radio the day after JFK’s 1960 speech, I hope I would have had the news judgment to do the same thing for his speech.