It was remarkable to watch Mitt Romney ignore the empty seats and airless mood and reach deep inside himself to give a speech in which he appeared genuine. It was also remarkable to see that even when he looks genuine, he still seems fake. And despite the soft quiver in his voice, and Ann’s nonstop transfusions of emotion and wrenching testimonials from Mormons forced to publicly relive family tragedies simply to give Mitt a personality, the terribly erect candidate still seemed as remote as Jupiter.
It was truly thrilling to watch the blindingly white older male delegates greet their young, blue-eyed future: Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman who turns out to be more talented than anyone had anticipated — a prodigy of prestidigitation.
In his speech Wednesday night, the altar boy altered reality, conjuring up a world so compassionate, so full of love-thy-neighbor kindness and small-town goodness, that you had to pinch yourself to remember it was a shimmering mirage, a beckoning pool of big, juicy lies. (The fitness freak may have also fibbed about running a sub-three-hour marathon in 1991; Runner’s World reports that his time was 4 hours and 1 minute.)
As the writer Dermot McEvoy notes, Ryan has “the so sincere, so phony air of a gloomy Irish undertaker standing outside the funeral parlor where you’ve come to plant your mother, shaking his head consolingly and giving you that firm two-handed Irish handshake.”