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Must-Read Op-Eds for August 31, 2012

HUMANIZE THIS!TIMOTHY EGANNEW YORK TIMESIn the speech that was supposed to seal the deal with a divided public, the man who sheltered his money in foreign lands

HUMANIZE THIS!TIMOTHY EGANNEW YORK TIMESIn the speech that was supposed to seal the deal with a divided public, the man who sheltered his money in foreign lands went on about his “belief in America”; it sounded like the chords of a flat song. The substance of his speech was the rhetorical equivalent of the elevator music the nominee loves. This was President Platitude, the aspirant. ... At the end of the night, the great mystery remained: not just who is Mitt Romney, but how does he cut taxes, raise or maintain defense spending, save Medicare and do it all without adding to a burden of debt that may outlive Romney himself. He gave no answer, because the real substance of his campaign is a construct built on a fantasy. Now he has to sell it.

MITT’S MUSHY MOMENTFRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESOn the stage last night, a candidate who needed to be “humanized” was wet with humanity. But I’m not sure how much ground Romney, soggy or not, stood to gain on that front. He’s probably never going to match Obama’s likeability. He’s definitely never going to match the historic arc and emotional resonance of Obama’s political career, one that validated the American dream in a special way and suggested crucial progress in racial reconciliation. ... From the beginning of Romney’s campaign, his advisers conceded that if the 2012 election turned into a popularity contest, he’d lose. But in a referendum on Americans’ economic welfare, he had a solid shot at victory. That remains the case. And the smartest and most powerful parts of Romney’s speech weren’t those torn from a family scrapbook or ripe for a Hallmark card.

Must-Read Op-Eds for August 30, 2012

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ROMNEY STATES HIS CASEEDITORIAL WASHINGTON POSTIn accepting the Republican nomination for president Thursday night, Mitt Romney took on three tasks: explaining why President Obama does not deserve reelection, presenting himself in human terms and making a case for where he would lead the country. He was most effective in the first assignment. ...Mr. Romney presented himself more as an empathetic manager than an ideological visionary. He mocked Mr. Obama’s grand claims with a direct and appealing promise “to help you and your family.” But this was not a speech in which he demonstrated how he would do so. He made no mention of the tough love and hard budget choices that earlier convention speakers had touted as central to the Republican plan. His argument against Mr. Obama was stronger than his pitch for himself.MITT ROMNEY'S ETCH A SKETCH SPEECHEJ DIONNE JRWASHINGTON POSTHaving given conservatives everything they had asked for — from switching his positions on abortion and immigration to picking their favorite as his running mate — Romney turned Thursday night to his essential task: converting some President Obama’s 2008 supporters into Republican voters. At a convention where the rhetoric was harsh and often indifferent to facts and even the truth itself, Romney took the path of quiet persuasion. For the most part, he chose not to speak to the fervor and anger of political activists on the Right. He addressed instead less partisan voters whom he hopes will be open to his candidacy by virtue of their disappointment with the man who had inspired them four years ago. A GENERIC SPEECH FOR THE GENERIC CANDIDATEJONATHAN BERNSTEINWASHINGTON POSTThe theme of this convention wasn’t to sell the American people on Mitt Romney, much less his rarely-mentioned plans for public policy. ...The theme, instead, was to appeal to those who might vote for Republicans but had one of two hesitations: either that they really like Barack Obama and had warm feelings for the 2008 campaign; or that they would vote Republican but were fed up with the parade of failures and crazies, from George W. Bush to some of the wackier Tea Party candidates, who have been the faces of the party for the last decade. ... Both of those themes showed up in Romney’s speech  [Thursday], and while he’s not capable of really making them soar...they were probably good enough. Not that it means that Romney will necessarily win, but it does probably mean that he will get what he could coming out of the convention, moving a bit closer to achieving whatever the fundamentals of the contest would predict.