Mitt Romney's acceptance-speech line on taxes — "I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America" — is, in politician-ese, a warning that anyone Mr. Romney thinks is wealthier than middle class can expect a tax increase in his administration. His failure to mention in the speech his campaign's stated, specific plan to cut tax rates is a major lapse, and a sign, perhaps, that he doesn't expect to follow through on such tax cuts if elected.
One of the rare moments in the speech that Mr. Romney did delve into specifics was on energy policy, with a promise that "by 2020 North America will be energy independent." I'm 100% for reducing government-imposed obstacles to drilling for oil or natural gas, but does it really matter whether America gets its oil or gas from Canada or from wells in areas of the North Sea controlled by friendly countries such as the United Kingdom, Norway, or Denmark? Should North America also be airplane independent (no planes from Airbus) and pharmaceutical independent (no drugs from Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, or Sanofi)? Since oil and natural gas are globally interchangable commodities, does it really matter where they are produced? I understand the national security risks of being beholden to Saudi Arabia, but if the Saudis ever tried to cut off our supply they'd just be hurting themselves. There has to be a way Mr. Romney can talk about the economic growth and jobs opportunity from domestic energy production without resorting to these almost jingoistic formulations like "energy independent."
To me the strongest part of the Romney acceptance speech was where he built on the immigrant-American dream theme that had been carefully constructed on nights one and two of the convention. He said:
We're a nation of immigrants, we're the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted
a better life. The driven ones. The ones who woke up at night,hearing that voice telling them that life in a place called
America could be better.
They came, not just in pursuit of the riches of this world,
but for the richness of this life. Freedom, freedom of
religion, freedom to speak their mind, freedom to build a life
and, yes, freedom to build a business with their own hands.
This is the essence of the American experience. We
Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future.
When every new wave of immigrants looked up and
saw the Statue of Liberty, or knelt down and kissed the shores
of freedom, just 90 miles from Castro's tyranny, these new
Americans sure had many questions, but none doubted that here in
America they could build a better life.
He connected his own personal history with that: "My dad had been born in Mexico. And his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution. I grew up with stories of his family being fed by the U.S. government as war refugees."
Senator Rubio of Florida, in introducing Mr. Romney, sounded similar themes:
I watched my first convention in 1980 with my grandfather.
My grandfather was born to a farming family in rural Cuba.
Childhood polio left him permanently disabled. Because he
couldn't work the farm, his family sent him to school. He was
the only one in his family that knew how to read. He was a huge
influence on the growing up. As a boy, I sat on the porch of my
house and listen to his stories about history and politics and
baseball, as he would talk on one of its three daily (inaudible)
cigars. Now, I don't remember, it has been three decades since
we last sat on that porch. I don't rember all the things he
talked to me about. But the one thing I rember is the one thing
he wanted me never to forget. That the dreams he had when he
was young became impossible to achieve . But there was no limit
to how far I could go, because I was an American.
Now for those of us -- here's why I say that -- here's why
I say that. Because for those of us who were born and raised in
this country, sometimes it becomes easy to forget how special
America is. But my grandfather understood how different America
was from the rest of the world because he knew life outside
My mother was one of seven girls who parents often went to
bed hungry so their children wouldn't. My father lost his
mother when he was nine. He had to leave school and to go to
work, and he would work for the next 70 years of his life. They
immigrated to America with little more than the hope of a better
life. My dad was a bartender. My mom was a cashier, a hotel
maid, a stock clerk at Kmart. They never made it big. They
were never rich, and yet they were successful, because just a
few decades removed from hopelessness, they made possible for us
all the things that have been impossible for them.
Many nights growing up I would hear my father's keys at the
door as he came home after another 16-hour day. Many mornings,
I woke up just as my mother got home from the overnight shift at
Kmart. When you're young and in a hurry, the meaning of moments
like this escape you. Now, as my children get older, I
understand it better. My dad used to tell us -- (SPEAKING IN
SPANISH) -- in this country, you'll be able to accomplish all
the things we never could.
A few years ago, I noticed a bartender behind the portable
bar in the back of the ballroom. I remembered my father, who
worked as many years as a banquet bartender. He was grateful
for the work he had, but that's not like he wanted for us. You
see, he stood behind the ball all those years so that one day I
could stand behind a podium, in the front of a room.
That journey -- that journey, from behind that bar to
behind this podium, goes to the essence of the American miracle.
That we're exceptional, not because we have more rich people
here. We are special because dreams that are impossible
anywhere else, they come true here.