I was set to accept the fact that my disappointment at Ann Romney’s speech was an outlier. But I just noticed that over at the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan saw things almost exactly the same way I did.
Here’s how I see it. I have just spent the past two and a half days talking to people who’ve known Mitt Romney well for ten, twenty and thirty years, even more. They love him, and in all their conversations they say either literally or between the lines, “If only you knew him like I do.” It is their mantra. They mean it, and they are so frustrated. They believe he is a person of unique and natural integrity, a kind man who will give you not only his money but his time, his energy. They see him as a leader. They know the public doesn’t see this. They don’t understand why. And, actually, I don’t blame them, because it really is a bit of a mystery. If he’s so good why can’t his goodness be communicated?
The opportunity Ann Romney missed was to provide first person testimony that is new, that hasn’t been spoken, that hasn’t been in the books and the magazine articles. She failed to make it new and so she failed to make it real.
I’m not sure her speech was a loss but it doesn’t feel like a gain. We’ll see. The real reaction to a highly publicized speech emerges not overnight on twitter but over days and weeks as people chat in the office and on the sidewalk in front of school. So we’ll see what they say, we’ll see how it bubbles up.
I think she’s right. It was a missed opportunity. (By the way, the only speech that come close to having a Noonan-esque flourish was Rick Santorum’s, but that’s another story.)
Interestingly, the Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger writes that Ann Romney actually did a much better job of humanizing her husband at a “Women for Mitt” breakfast this morning. It’s kind of unfortunate that didn’t happen last night.
Over at Bloggingheads.TV, my liberal colleague Bill Scher and I discussed the problems with Ann Romney’s speech. He saw it the same way I did. You can watch us discuss it here.