Diary of an undecided voter (GOP convention edition)

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


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Why a station wagon?

    With all those kids, plus the dog, why didn't the Romneys have a van instead of a station wagon? Couldn't have been money. Poor judgement? Do we really want this guy as president?

    Terri the Terrorist Terrier says "W00F!!" (No!)
    • Traditional minivans came later

      Other than the Volkswagon vans and some commercial vans, minivans as we know them today started in 1984 or so. Station wagons were the minivans back then.
      David Gewirtz
      • You're undecided?!

        Republicans have spent the last four years pulling dirty tricks on every initiative Obama tries to implement to improve the quality of life for average people? Face it, Republicans only care about their money. And your money, that's next - they care about that because it's not *yet* their money. The Republican Party is just a front, with a propagandist disinformation front called Fox News, that is out to bankrupt both the government and *you*. Any vote for a Republican candidate is a traitorous pledge cast against the majority of people who are *middle class*. Go ahead, vote for that one percent - but don't be surprised in 10 years when I warned you that they are just out to fleece you for everything. Everything.
      • David Korten: The Post Corporate World

        "In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy and the market economy."

        That is from the prologue to David Korten's book "The Post Corporate World."

        Capitalism is sucking every penny upwards into the hands of the obscenely wealthy. At this point in time Republicans are just tools for those wealthy to realize their ever increasing gains.

        Do you still want to vote Republican? Remember the good old days when people like Rockefeller took their mega-wealth and actually put it to the public good? These days it seems like Bill Gates stands alone in that tradition. All the other mega-rich have found something better to do with their wealth: keep it. All of it.
      • Korten has a lot to say about capitalistic colonization globally

        But to attribute that to the Republican party exclusively is nonsense. The big shot Dems drink from the same cup. Ironically there's only a thin line between Marxism and untamed (Ultra-) Capitalism, doubly so by modern framings. Want jackbooting? Name a modern corporation that isn't "politically correct" to an almost sickening degree.

        Also an inordinate amount of hi-tech mavericks are funders of the Democratic party. Just as many others are advocates for One World Order. You keep turning to stereotypical frameworks of the past, when increasingly they no longer apply (as they might have once upon a time).

        As for Bill Gates, please stop with the post-MS sainthood proclamations. Here's a guy who ran roughshod over anybody and anything in his path for years, drove even the majority of his own inner circle away with his incessant bullwhip, and now - largely thanks to his Catholic wife (and lots of bridge with Buffett) - has morphed into the second coming of Mother Teresa.

        That is, after stashing away more into private coffers than a Prince from antiquity could ever have hoped for. After all, he conquered the commercial world, arguably at his own country's expense. And like any Pied Piper worth their reed, other rats followed suit, quite eagerly. LOTS of them, lest they be left behind holding diminished bags. And all unchecked by our electors.

        So now he's on a crusade to feed the world. Bravo Bill. Too bad he couldn't take his substantive intellect and business prowess and, in like manner, attempt to apply it more to the country that nurtured him and gave him a playing field in which to bloom. Shades of what the rest of our once "American," now multinational crusaders endeavor for. The world at the expense of their own.

        And therein lies the problem. Politically, both the Reps AND Dems are afraid to do a thing about it, or see little reason to challenge the status quo. I wonder why? [think payroll-a instead of republicana]
    • Ahhh

      the full mentality of an Obummer supporter. Obviously you advocate 4 more years of lies and debt increases.
      • No kidding. He probably

        thinks the Romneys had the dog standing on the roof, scrabbling to maintain balance while they drove down the highway, all of the laughing as the poor animal clung desperately to the roof.
      • To be fair he'll mention Obama's eating dog next week

        Oh and population and unemployment aren't correlated as David suggests.

        Unemployment relates to the demand for labour and can be high or low in economies with small and large populations.

        As value is created in the private sector almost exclusively, look to party job creation policies to be targeted in that direction. Attempts by govt to create jobs will be short-term (must be funded from the productive sector). I suspect this policy deference will define the two sides.
        Richard Flude
      • Yeah!

        We want 4 new years of different lies and debt increases!
    • I'd ask obamas childhood dog how it feels, but..he ate it

  • Don't recall who said it but better the roof of a station wagon

    than the roof of his mouth. Obama says terri the terrier tastes terrific.
    Johnny Vegas
    • please

      Put the pistol in your mouth and pull the trigger. Save the world from your wit PLEASE !
  • Listen to Ry Cooder

    Mitt Romney, is what they say in Texas - Big Hat, No Cattle.

    But, listen to ry cooders mutt romney blues at youtube watch?v=TW_hE1jZWgY
    Your Non Advocate
  • I thought the empty chair was a good representation.

    Or maybe a golf cart. What else would you use for a career of voting present? Leading from behind? Ignoring simpson bowles? Ignoring Iran? Not being able to speak coherently off prompter?
    Johnny Vegas
    • I thought

      it was a mental upgrade over having Obummer there in person. At least he wasn't lying to Clint!
  • Conventions are publicity stunts

    I hate seeing all of the political commercials on TV during an election year. Why should I watch a several day long commercial? Sadly, I've been watching it anyway and the only thing I saw was desperation and expert manipulation of the uneducated masses using fear tactics. It has been one long hard-sell routine from expert salesmen, with very little new information actually revealed. There were also no real explanations for why he has such radical positions on some extremely important issues.

    I found myself looking at every speech about a policy position thinking, "What's in it for him?" In every case, it was obvious that he and/or his rich close friends were going to benefit financially from every single policy he has. He's won't be looking out for my best interests. He'll only be looking out for himself and his rich friends. All of the big corporations he and his buddies own stock in will benefit. He'll get bigger dividends. Reducing regulation and increasing tax breaks for the rich will benefit HIM, not us.

    Eliminating financial access to education for the middle and lower classes will make it so only the rich can afford to educate their children. Uneducated voters are their best target audience. They're easy to manipulate using fear tactics. Long term, the rich will get richer and the poor will remain firmly under their direct control. As a registered republican, my own party makes me sick these days.
    • There needs to be a 'None Of The Above' option

      on all ballots, particularly for the executive office. With a requirement that no candidate shall assume office without at least 30% of the total vote. If none succeed, a groomed monkey in a business suit is brought out from caged dormancy in the Green Room and given the task for the full term.

      I doubt any discernible difference would be glimpsed from what we get now.
      • Re "none of the above"

        Where would we get enough monkeys?
        • Achilles' heel

          Get enough monkeys? :O

          Seems there's always an unforeseen element in every new or promising initiative.

          Back to the drawing board... *sigh*
    • Sadly...

      ...it's been a generation since U.S. major party national conventions have been real decision making bodies. I notice that this time around, the Republicans passed their party platform without any debate or minority reports. That would have been unheard of in the 1970s, even if there wasn't a serious contest for the nomination.

      Notice also the high bar to even placing a name in nomination at this year's convention, and that votes for Paul and Santorum were ignored by the secretary (even the 1972 Republican National Convention recorded Paul McCloskey's one vote).

      This year's Republican National Convention was a combination rubber stamp and infomercial, so it's not surprising that the actual business of the convention got almost no attention, Sorry to say, I expect no better from the Democrats.
      John L. Ries