Last night, the Republican National Convention featured a parade of powerhouse speakers: Governors Scott Walker, John Kasich, Bob McDonnell, and Nikki Haley, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Congressional candidate Mia Love, and former top Democrat and Obama supporter Artur Davis---all of whom had the crowd cheering.
But it wasn't until 10 pm ET that the GOP really kicked into an hour of power. First, Ann Romney brought the love. She talked about Mitt the man, the husband, the father, the grandfather. She painted a picture of a true gentleman: brilliant, hard-working, honest, kind, funny, generous, and loving. A self-made man. A man of great integrity who, she said, "will not let us down." A man, she said, whom we can "trust." Ann spoke from her heart. In fact, she was all heart: she even wore a red dress. She was real: her laugh, her joy, her love for her family and her nation, her happiness in being there: all authentic.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie then stormed the stage with a booming message about telling the truth to the American people: about the hard choices that must be made if we're to save this country from fiscal ruin. And more importantly, if we're to save our very freedoms, which cannot survive under the crushing burdens and encroachments of really big government.
Nobody last night launched direct attacks on President Obama. Nobody had to: his catastrophic record speaks for itself. Everybody knows how bad he and his policies truly are.
The Republicans in Tampa instead focused on elevating the discourse: pointing out the current president's failures while talking about how to get us out of the deep ditch he's dug for the nation. Instead of falling for the temptation (and the bait laid by the Democrats) to fight from a negative premise and with negative attacks, the GOP speakers fought from the high ground. They are fighting to lead, yes. But they are fighting to lead with meaning -- the positive meaning of an American restoration.
What the GOP speakers did do last night was begin to set the narrative of the choice: between Obama's disastrous and dangerous experiment with socialism, and Romney's agenda of limited government, fiscal responsibility, economic freedom, and muscular national defense.
As important as the content of what the Republicans said last night---and going forward---is the way they say it. The speakers are optimistic about America, projecting a joyful confidence that we can turn this thing around before it's truly too late. Even the pugnacious Chris Christie cast his "tough choices" speech in a bright light of hope. Not a phony Greek columns kind of hope. But real hope in Americans' ability and willingness to hear the truth and do what it takes to save the country we love.
Last night, the GOP speakers showed themselves to be Happy Warriors. Paul Ryan---a natural Happy Warrior---speaks tonight. Expect another big hour of power at 10pm ET, full of joyful exuberance---not for the speakers on the stage, but for the country that has given us ALL so much.
And in the end, that always wins the day.