Now comes the counterpunch.
Last night’s festivities in Tampa at the Republican National Convention concluded a week which brought us some of the brightest lights of the GOP (and Clint Eastwood) united in bashing the presidency of Barack Obama. Marco Rubio, Cuban-American Senator from my home state of Florida, referred to Obama as “a bad president,” a statement which echoed the underlying theme of the night: “It is time for a change” – or, as Clint told the partisan crowd and the empty chair to which he repeatedly turned: “It may be time for someone else to come along and solve the problem.”
The problem is the state of the U.S. economy, and the “someone else” is, of course, Mitt Romney, who accepted his party’s nomination near the end of the evening.
Pundits are busy breaking down and analyzing the impact of the Convention’s final evening. CNN.com ran a piece with the heading: “Did Mitt Romney Gain Ground”?
The answer is obvious: of course he did.
This happens every election year. A party’s National Convention leads to an immediate boost in the polls for that party’s candidate. So we should not be surprised when Romney’s numbers reflect an upward swing in the coming days. How could the result be different when that candidate has dominated the national airwaves (in prime time, no less) for the better part of a week?
Governor Romney should enjoy his upswing while it lasts because logic dictates that the numbers will readjust at the end of next week, when Democrats complete their swing through Charlotte. There will be no one at the Democratic National Convention indicting President Obama’s record. Rather, the blame will be placed on his predecessor, George W. Bush, and a Republican Congress whose stated goal was to ensure that Obama became a one-term president.
This past week did not win the election for Romney, and the coming week will not lose it. They are simply part of a process which began more than two years ago, when prospective presidential candidates commenced vetting their chances, and will end in early November, when votes are cast and a winner declared (unless, of course, we relive the uncertainty of 2000 when, thanks to many “hanging chads,” the election was not decided until close to the new year).
It all makes for compelling television, particularly when an election appears as close as this year’s.
September will be a busy month for television, with the networks introducing their new schedules and many of cable’s best shows (Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland) returning for new seasons.
But the focus in the coming days will be on the conclusion of perhaps the most important two weeks of Reality TV, which will set the stage for the next three months, and will undoubtedly impact the path our nation follows for the next four years.
In the end, two question emerge: Who will Democrats choose to counter Clint Eastwood’s star power? And will they bring their own chairs?