Diary of an undecided voter (GOP convention edition)

Summary:There are probably less than 10% of Americans who haven't decided on who to vote for in the November Presidential election. Yet, it's often the undecided voters, like ZDNet Government's own David Gewirtz, that eventually choose the winner. Here's David's review of the GOP convention.

Condoleezza Rice

Condi Rice is always an elegant speaker, but I still find it disturbing how the former Bush administration people wear 9/11 on their shoulders like a badge of honor.

When Rice does it, in particular, it actually infuriates me, when I know there was a chance to prevent 9/11 and she's the person who squelched that opportunity.

Richard Clarke, at the time America's leading counterterrorism official, tried to present his department's intelligence information about the impending attacks, warning the President about al-Qaeda's plans. Rice, then National Security Advisor, banned Clarke from discussing the threat with the President. This is why Clarke eventually left the White House (and quite possibly why the events of 9/11 weren't prevented).

So, although it's interesting to hear her perspective, I find she's not really a credible speaker when she blames others for the issues and aftermath of 9/11.

One of my big concerns about this GOP ticket is Romney and Ryan's complete lack of international affairs experience. While Rice can offer the national security perspective that Romney and Ryan lack, I find it curious that she was given so much time in prime time, especially since she's repeatedly claimed she wouldn't accept a post in a Romney administration.

Paul Ryan

I've heard a lot of sound bites from Ryan, but I've never really seen him speak. He's the one I'm most curious about right now, because I want to see if he seems worthy to be President, in case he has to step up. After all, that's what this is really about, isn't it?

It's not whether he's a good choice to balance the ticket, or whether he brings Tea Party red meat to the convention. It's about, if Mitt Romney is elected President and then dies, whether Paul Ryan can take the reigns of the United States Government.

First impression: he's no Sarah Palin, at least when it comes to speeches. When Palin took the podium at the 2008 convention, she held the crowd in the palm of her hand, and knocked it out of the park. Of course, she'd never have been appropriate as a VP for the reasons outlined in the previous paragraph, but she was a far stronger speaker, a far more natural orator than Ryan appears to be.

Interestingly, Ryan does appear to understand the jobs problem we still have. This is something I'm very familiar with, as the author of How To Save Jobs. He asked a question I asked back when I wrote the book: with so many people out of work, why hasn't jobs creation been this administration's top priority? Can't say I don't agree with Ryan here.

Where I do disagree is with his goals for job creation. He says the Romney ticket's goal is to create 12 million new jobs over the next four years. That's a high bar, but it's far from enough. We have about 23 million Americans out of work. Worse, about 2 million new workers enter the workforce each year. So, over the course of a 4-year term, of the 12 million jobs Ryan discussed, only about 4 million of those would be available for the current 23 million out of work. It's not nearly enough.

Great line: "College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, looking up at fading Obama posters, and wondering when they can get on with life."

Thinking about it after his speech, I realized one of the things I was looking for was "the crazy". Sometimes, fundamentalist Republicans appear, well, nutty. As much as I personally like Sarah Palin, for example, she seemed a little too loony to be President.

Ryan didn't evidence any of that crazy. Although I certainly disagreed with some of his points, I found myself agreeing with many of his economic statements, certainly the ones that assessed today's economy as unnecessarily moribund.

He certainly didn't close the deal when it comes to deciding who I'll eventually vote for, but I did come to a somewhat surprising conclusion: he'll do.

Oh, as much fun as the Biden/Palin debate was, I think the one between Joe and Mr. Ryan will be equally interesting, but in a different way. Hey, face it, Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving to those of us in the chattering class. Not sure Mr. Ryan will provide quite as much journalistic joy.

On the next page: Dirty Harry and Mitt Romney

Topics: Government, Government : US


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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