Once again, on day two of the Republican National Convention, it was ominous how few mentions of the nominee himself were made. It wasn’t quite as stark as it had been on day one in the speeches of Chris Christie and others, but notable nonetheless. I asserted that the first night’s speeches were evidence that the speakers were all setting themselves up for future campaigns, as they had collectively (and perhaps independently) come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney was a sinking ship.
I still think that’s true, but I also think the mostly-Romneyless speeches from Condoleezza Rice and Paul Ryan last night were also indicative of an intentional strategy to be as vague as possible about Romney and what he stands for, and instead deluge the viewer with platitudes and fuzzy imagery. Romney the man is not sellable, but generic Americanness is. If you remember that the intended audience for the prime time speeches is not the politically tuned-in or the base, but the handful of uninformed undecideds, that strategy makes perfect sense.
Remembering the intended audience also explains Paul Ryan’s shameless, brazen speech that was absolutely overflowing with lies. To anyone who is even a little bit informed, it was astounding how blatantly he simply told lie after lie about himself and the president. But to those uninformed undecideds, well, they’ll never know that nothing he said was true. So for a speech intended for those ears and eyes, it was probably a big success. Which is a horrible shame, and very damning of American society.
Update: As Dan Amira wrote:
Most of the millions of people who watched the speech on television tonight do not read fact-checks or obsessively consume news fifteen hours a day, and will never know how much Ryan’s case against Obama relied on lies and deception. Ryan’s pants are on fire, but all America saw was a barn-burner.