The RNC: Clint Eastwood, 'Invisible Obama' and waiting for Mitt Romney's solutions

The RNC: Clint Eastwood, 'Invisible Obama' and waiting for Mitt Romney's solutions
Chicago Tribune photo

I didn't listen to the RNC speeches on Tuesday or Wednesday night. I can only take so much partisanity from either party. But on Thursday, I committed myself to listening to the three main speakers – Clint Eastwood, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney.

I've not been impressed with candidate Romney so far, but I was going to give his speech a chance because maybe, just maybe, some actual solutions would be proposed rather than his usual vague promises of 12 million new jobs WHILE greatly reducing the debt WHILE keeping defense spending at its current level if not higher WHILE maintaining Medicare for those currently on it WHILE ensuring taxes are either kept at current levels or lowered even further.

(To put this in perspective, let's pretend you have a mortgage on your home (THE DEFICIT). Now, on top of that, your salary at work has been decreased (LESS TAXES). And you're not allowed to sell one bit of the most precious items you own – let's say they're Beanie Babies (DEFENSE SPENDING). In fact, you're going to buy more Beanie Babies. Now, how exactly are you going to pay off the mortgage faster at that rate? Anyone?)

Furthermore, job creation (and the taxes that come with it) costs money. Lots of money. For education. For training. For infrastructure. You can't wave a magic tax wand and create more jobs. Taxing the wealthy and businesses that make more than $200,000 in profit less does not create more jobs. A person doesn't create a job because they have the money to do so. A person creates a job because it enables him or her to make more money. To create a job when there is not a built-in demand for one – which is where we find ourselves – requires government investment. Lots of it.

So, again, perhaps Romney in his speech would explain how he plans to accomplish all this.

That didn't happen.

Instead, I got to see Clint Eastwood speak to an empty chair filled by an "Invisible Obama," Rubio acquit himself fairly well as an introductory speaker (but – then again – he was following a guy who had just finished a discussion with an empty chair) and Romney generally waste my time.

Maybe Romney actually does have a grand plan for accomplishing all of his promises, but I certainly didn't hear it on Thursday night.

Let's run through some of his stated goals as outlined in his speech:

1. Become energy independent. By flying even faster through our natural resources, a short-term solution at best, especially at at time when maybe, just maybe, we should be taking a closer look at our ecology. I am thankful, at least, that I didn't have to hear the phrase, "Drill, baby drill."

2. Improve our education system. No details on how. And last time I checked, like with job creation, this requires money. Lots of it. For teacher training. For better schools. To help those in need pay for college. We still haven't figured out how he plans to pay for his other promises. I'm not holding my breath.

3. Fix our trade deficit. Again, no explanation on how. Unless he has magical leprechaun powder that can make China disappear, he'll have about as much luck as both Obama and Bush did on this issue.

4. Take a harder stance on Iran. We are going to learn eventually that war only breeds contempt and hatred, not peace, right? Right?

Number of ways presented to reach any of his stated goals: 0.

All in all, a disappointing speech. The only substantive reason Romney gave for voting for him was that he's not Obama. And that certainly might be reason enough for some people.

But it's not nearly reason enough for me.

At the DNC, it will be Obama's time. I'm not expecting a laid-out plan toward job growth and deficit reduction from him either. My only hope is that he at least tries to promise only that which is achievable. And I don't even have great hopes for that hope.

Which means – in the end – my vote will come down to whose general, vague philosophy I adhere to more.

• Would I rather see a trickle-down economy, in which the poor and middle class hope the crumbs from the wealthy reach them in time to pay their bills OR a trickle-up economy, in which money is invested in the poor and middle class rather than the wealthy so that the former can increase their standing in life, increase their purchasing power and by doing so give the wealthy an actual reason to hire more employees. (While my bias between these two positions is clear, I certainly would welcome a meaningful compromise, as well.)

• Do I want our nation's president to believe that government should dictate who its populace can and cannot marry OR to believe that all people should have the same rights as everyone else, including who they legally couple with? (Equal rights are something I won't compromise on.)

• Would I rather the next leader of our armed forces believe in strength through militancy OR believe in strength through nation-building and diplomacy? (Nor this.)

When put this way, my voting decision is a very simple one. Neither candidate is especially inspiring at this point, but only one of them is somebody whose core beliefs are at least somewhat similar to mine.

Here's hoping for four more years.

• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. Write to him at Subscribe to him on Facebook at Or you can like the Going For Gusto Facebook page at

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