Mitt Romney chose to ignore my advice to not bother trying to get people to like him, and it sure looks like he made a bad move.
So far, polling suggests no more than a small "convention bounce," leaving the national race essentially tied going into this week's Democratic convention. If Obama gets just a decent bounce, of four or five points, that leaves Romney in a hole heading into the final two months. If Obama gets a big bounce, that hole could be deep.
It was a bad convention. Just bad.
Partly that was due to reasons I wrote about with one day left. The GOP just doesn't have people it can put up on stage, who Americans are interested in hearing from. The speakers who are palatable enough to put in front of the general public aren't very good. When you take away the scary messages, you're not left with anything compelling.
So, I thought Marco Rubio gave a good speech. So did Susana Martinez. But nobody was tuning in for those. And frankly, their speeches -- and Chris Christie's, and several others -- had very little to say about the direction of the country. It was all small-ball stuff.
I watched the whole week, and have gone back through most of the speeches and some of the video packages. As far as I can tell from what went on in that three-day infomercial, the Republican Party thinks A) America is in dire, perilous condition, and B) regulatory reform will set America right.
The problem is, if you agree with A, you're very unlikely to think that B is the answer. It's like that classic SNL bit of the music producer calling for "more cowbell."
Romney could have used the convention to put more effort into convincing people that America is in perilous condition. Or, he could have taken that as assumed, and put more effort into convincing them that he and the GOP have a real plan of action.
Instead, the convention was a lot about what a nice guy Romney is (a waste of time, as I explained last week); a lot about how Republicans are sometimes not white men and frequently have ancestors who were not born wealthy (also a waste of time, without some change in policy and rhetoric); and a lot about how Barack Obama hates small business owners.
That hatred of small business owners, of course, is why Obama has supposedly loaded them up with burdensome regulations. Which is why at least two dozen RNC speakers explicitly called for fixing the economy through unspecified regulatory relief.
Which, among normal people, is a lot like asking for more cowbell.