The apparent Obama post convention bump does not surprise me. Much of my life has been spent evaluating cultural projects as a producer or manager, from the early records of The Band, to Mean Streets or The Last Waltz, I was always pretty sure when the production made an emotional impact on the audience. Mitt Romney’s convention, with the exception of the Clint Eastwood/Samuel Beckett Moment, was as dull as dishwater. It felt like a Lions Club convention and all the faces of color seemed planted by a casting director for diversity on a reality show. In contrast the Democratic Convention had an air of authenticity that felt like the real America of 2012, not the fantasy America of Romney and Paul’s Back to the Fifties movement. The Republicans want to re-litigate issues like birth control, voting rights, and abortion that most of us thought were settled by 1964 when the voting rights act was passed or 1973 when Roe vs. Wade was settled by the Supreme Court.
So the Obama slogan of “Forward” worked. It would not only be back to the fifties socially with Romney/Ryan, but back to the freewheeling days pre 2008 crash on Wall Street. All it takes is a head of the SEC in the bag for Wall Street (like Chris Cox), for the Masters of the Universe to be unleashed again. John Paulson’s million dollar donations to Romney’s super pac will be a bargain. But I don’t think Paulson’s bet will pay off. Willard is a loser.
But more important than all of Republican convention failings was for the Democrats to give a series of really fine political speeches from Deval Patrick, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Every one of them had passion, ideas, poetry and hope. For the Democrats the staging was perfect (at least showbiz support counts for something) as when Barack arrived on stage at the end of Bill Clinton’s speech. For the Republicans it was amateur hour in Dixie to allow Clint to ramble on unscripted for the first 13 minutes of your prime time final night. Once you’ve screwed up the opening (as any film, TV or stage director will tell you), it’s almost impossible to get the audience back emotionally. Mitt didn’t. And so he left Tampa soggy and with a negative bounce down even before the Democrats started.