Why The First Two Days Were So Boring

 [Note: written midday Thursday, but due to technical problems did not post until after Thursday night's proceedings]

The underwhelming first two days of speechifying at the Republican National Convention was the almost inevitable result of several factors.

For one thing, the Republican Party has very, very few pols who are popular, or even palatable, to the general American public. People despise the congressional Republicans. Anyone from the Bush administration – including Bush – are perhaps even more tainted. Consider that the two deemed acceptable enough for the stage were Rob Portman, the budget director who oversaw the explosion of the federal deficit; and Condaleezza Rice, who was in charge of national security when 9/11 and the Iraq War fiasco.

Romney's campaign has clearly sent the Tea Party contingent to the attic. Michele Bachmann et al have not been seen, and Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray reports that the very words have not been uttered from the stage, in the first nominating convention since the movement began.

In addition, those who do speak have been denuded, again for mainstream consumption. Jobs and the economy, and perhaps some foreign policy, are about all they're allowed to talk about. Abortion, gay marriage, immigration, voter fraud, gun control, and other animating issues have been almost completely absent – not to mention the crypto-birtherism, end-of-liberty, cultural depravity, and sovereignty-ceding talk common on the Presidential campaign trail, and prevalent in many delegates' daily reading.

Another factor: affirmative action. Or, whatever you choose to call the blatant preferential treatment of women and racial minorities. Howled at with derision and outrage in any other context by the Republican faithful, it is accepted and even gloated over at the RNC. This year's spectacle has been especially flagrant, with almost any elected female or Latino hauled out to the stage, regardless of their obscurity or ability to deliver a speech. Not that they were all bad – Susana Martinez in particular I liked – but as opponents of affirmative action normally note, you can end up passing over much better when you're advancing a small minority (very small, in the case of Republican elected women) straight to the front of the line.

A logistical problem didn't help matters. Speech planning is something like charting seating for a wedding. The various purposes and target audiences get matched up with times and expected TV coverage. But the unexpected cancellation of Monday's program forced a last-minute reshuffling, which led to cramming a lot of make-goods – the Presidential and VP also-rans – into a smaller window; and also created jarring juxtapositions like belligerent Chris Christie following American Sweatheart Ann Romney.

One more problem: on the central topic of jobs and economic growth, nobody could really talk much about what Romney would do, because he hasn't put any policy flesh on his vague promises to make things better.

That's fine; the opposition party absolutely should spend the bulk of its convention making the argument against the incumbent. So, the overwhelming Obama-pounding was neither surprising nor inappropriate.

It was, however, poorly done. It was mostly second- and third-rate speakers, shorn of their usual red-meat rhetoric, just sort of randomly saying that jobs aren't available because Obama hates small business. Or something like that.

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