On August 30th, 2012, official Republican Candidate for President, Mitt Romney, appeared before the Republican National Convention, and gave his official nomination speech.
It was, by all turns, an effective speech, and played very well amongst the assembled party faithful. Hopes that he would sound more inclusive, and less divisive, were squashed by his rhetoric, and it soon became more about why Obama was the wrong man for the job, rather than why he was the right person to replace him.
And while it's a certainty that the factcheckers and lefties will be having a froth-a-thon over it for the next week, give the man -- or at least his speechwriters -- credit. He hit the right notes, played the right lines, and raised the energy he needed. He even got in a few good zingers, funny by anyone's standards.
But something was wrong with his body language.
His eyes were blank, and his smile was hollow. His movements were stiff and robotic. It almost looked like he was going through pre-programmed motions, determined long in advance by some strange puppetmaster -- left to cackle anonymously behind the scenes as his pet Romney's wooden limbs and jaw clickety-clacked.
And yes, he thundered, at times. But when he did he quickly recovered, and returned to zero. It was like watching ice crack under weight, but never enough to collapse and fall through.
Almost as if it's afraid of revealing what's lurking there, in the cold black under the frozen white.
They say Romney's stiff and reserved, and that's probably part of his upbringing. They say he lacks warmth and seems to have little empathy, which might be part of his reservedness, or might be because he's a rich boy made sociopathic by high station and massive money.
But surely on this night of nights, when he's at the pinnacle of a journey he started four years ago, in 2008, he could at least light a fire in his heart large and hot enough to burn through that cold, patrician shield, and ignite more than just the delegates. Surely he could ignite the cool core of his being, and broadcast the true enthusiasm that has to come from such an amazing, possibly once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Surely he could shake loose, just this once?
But no. Robo-Romney stomped through the speech, pre-scripted and pre-ordained. Heck, the chair Clint Eastwood harangued in his unscripted and rambling surprise speech showed more humanity than Romney did.
He almost reminded me of Dr. Manhattan from the seminal graphic novel Watchmen: "Everything is pre-ordained, even my responses." Thankfully, he chose not to give this speech, blue, glowing, hairless, and nude.
But speaking of pre-ordination, I have a prediction to make, at this point. Based on what I have read, and what I have seen, I predict that, as the election goes on, that fire will not be ignited. I predict that it will, in fact, begin to cool even more. I predict that on those occasions where he seems to be on fire, it will have more to do with those around him, and their responses, than anything inside himself.
And I predict that he will spend his alone time truly alone and blank-faced, like a capital prisoner awaiting either execution or freedom at the whim of a fickle judge.
Why? Well, let's consider what we've seen thus far.