Charlotte was a soccer game; thick with color, energy, talent, flavor, grace, and legit diversity. It was a glistening, smartly-sequenced showcase of re-invigorated hope and belief in the potential for a brighter future conveyed earnestly, openly and unambiguously by the likes of Tammy Duckworth, Deval Patrick, Michelle Obama, Jennifer Granholm, Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, certainly Bill Clinton and of course, the President himself.
Little of that applied to Tampa, where the GOP's grand scheme ultimately meant that matters like authentic minority inclusion warranted only the single day's focus. Of more importance was managing the off-platform legislative history carried into the convention by their nominees (while simultaneously low-keying most of the extreme elements of that platform) and to "humanize" Romney.
Beavis and Butthead
Thus, the challenge for Team Romney was both significant and -- with slightly over two months to Election Day -- subject to crucial time constraints. In an election where knocking off Obama was viewed as simply plunking down a candidate with a B-School background, I found it amusing watching them try to work some sort of David Copperfield maneuver on a set of hype-up fiscal experts bogged down by a paper trail that reflects dubious economic sensibilities:
"P90X" Paul Ryan : the attention-starved fiscal Butthead; vivid in imagination but short on what it takes to figure out when to round up his numbers and when to round them down. Ryan's rep as a deficit hawk sunk like the Titanic when shortly after being chosen for VP, it was pointed out that during Dubya's reign of error Ryan voted in favor of roughly $6 TRILLION in deficit spending.
Mitt Romney (aka MITT-ROM): the preposterously prosperous corporate shill whose Beavis-like proposals for economic recovery read like a suicide note from a deranged accountant. Romney's proposed budget is so undefined that it's been described as "an end without the means."
Spinning away those inconsistencies added another layer to the challenge of humanizing their seemingly soulless nominee who projects a personality that seems to offer unmistakable proof that "corporations are people too." Obviously, a transformation of MITT-ROM from greedy Gordon Gecko to philanthropic Bill Gates was completely far-fetched, but warming him up to at least, Dick Nixon levels seemed doable.
Nevertheless, Tampa seemed more like a Romney roast than an event designed to showcase the human side of their nominee. Other than Mrs. MITT-ROM, speakers like Rubio, John Kasich and Chris Christie seemed determined to treat their allotted time like a commercial for Monster.com. It was almost saddening to watch as speaker after speaker laboriously touted themselves while giving either belated or less-than-assiduous mention of the man they were there to nominate. What I got out of it was a sense that many speakers feel that Romney's defeat is a foregone conclusion.