“This was not a speech designed to move an audience”? All due respect to Brit Hume, who’s watched more of these kinds of speeches than I ever dread to be afflicted by, but I think he may have gone into Mitt Romney’s speech with some blinders on. Hume calls the speech “good” and “solid,” which it was, but it was also eloquent and moving at times, too. Hume is undoubtedly correct that Romney wanted to contrast Barack Obama’s soaring oratory with some plain speaking, but it’s a mistake to think that’s all that Romney had to offer, either.
Let’s look at a couple of passages, which are both prosaic and yet inspirational considering current political circumstances. Romney spoke on the immigrant experience, being only two generations removed from it (via Common Cents):
It is what brought us to America. We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better.
They came not just in pursuit of the riches of this world but for the richness of this life.
Freedom of religion.
Freedom to speak their mind.
Freedom to build a life.
And yes, freedom to build a business. With their own hands.
This is the essence of the American experience.
And when Romney spoke of the contemporary American experience:
And that’s how it is in America. We look to our communities, our faiths, our families for our joy, our support, in good times and bad. It is both how we live our lives and why we live our lives. The strength and power and goodness of America has always been based on the strength and power and goodness of our communities, our families, our faiths.
That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America’s communities, large and small.
It’s when we see that new business opening up downtown. It’s when we go to work in the morning and see everybody else on our block doing the same.
It’s when our son or daughter calls from college to talk about which job offer they should take….and you try not to choke up when you hear that the one they like is not far from home.
It’s that good feeling when you have more time to volunteer to coach your kid’s soccer team, or help out on school trips.
But for too many Americans, these good days are harder to come by. How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?
Romney finished by reminding us of what we were and can be again:
Everywhere I go in America, there are monuments that list those who have given their lives for America. There is no mention of their race, their party affiliation, or what they did for a living. They lived and died under a single flag, fighting for a single purpose. They pledged allegiance to the UNITED States of America.
That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother’s confidence that their children’s future is brighter even than the past.
That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it.
That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator, and codified in our Constitution.
That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.
That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.
It’s true that much of Romney’s speech focused on the need for new leadership in the US, which by its nature is a prosaic approach. It’s also true that he followed a truly gifted orator in Marco Rubio, whose own triumph was almost impossible to trump. But I’d call his speech a good deal more than just “solid.”