Concession speech review: Huck up, Mitt down
Almost anybody can be a gracious winner. The true mettle of a competitor shines through when you're less windshield, more bug. When you've lost a close and possibly pivotal battle, it's important not to come off -- for example -- as the petulant heir to an automobile fortune whose sense of entitlement comes glowering through his pie-hole.
Listening to Mitt Romney concede is like watching a sewer pipe overflow, and trying to defend his performance is like trying to say the sewer pipe was complimenting the rain on a hard-fought victory. Not every Republican candidate was like this, though. Some of them were downright likable, though, including:
The Huckster: A-.
Affable and off-the-cuff, Huckabee addressed supporters with just the right blend of aw-shucks and we'll-get-'em-next-time. Responding extemporaneously, Huck played off his supporters and managed to seem a likable, good-humored chap even to a guy who agrees with him minimally on the issues. (Though earlier in the contest on a few occasions, he's expressed more-or-less open disdain for Romney, albeit in funny ways). One of the TV talking heads floated the possibility of Huck staying in the race just to siphon evangelical votes from Mitt. Meeeeeeow.
Rudy pointed out that he had run a clean campaign, neglecting to mention that no one gets into attack ad battles with the guy who doesn't sniff a delegate. He waxed rhapsodic about America, and values, and words, and more words, and he smiled and I changed the channel because a more horrifying smile does not exist outside of an on-fire wax museum. Prior to this, though, he warmed our hearts by thanking whichever wife he's on now.
Ron Paul: C.
Paul's concession speech wasn't even aired by CNN as far as I could see, despite the fact that his robust vote totals outpaced Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter -- and not just because both of them have withdrawn from the race. The Trilateral Commission or Bilderberg Group must be behind this censorship somehow. I give him a "C" because a "C" means average, and his electoral performance is about par for the course in terms of what I expect. Actually, my not having to watch Ron Paul probably means I should give him an A.
Mitt Romney: F.
Mitt Romney could have come across as less likable, possibly, if he had spit on a photo of John McCain in uniform. Preening and cocksure, he didn't congratulate his main opponent so much as use free airtime to rip him. Mitt also had his Dan Quayle moment, noting that American jobs are under attack "from countries like Asia and India."
Then there was the creepy series where his followers kept repeating "They Haven't!" after Romney's "We've asked Washington to fix [issue]," as wooden a call-and-response as has been seen since the days of Vanilla Ice. This whole "I'm the outsider running for change" business is so tired, contrived and false coming from Protean Romney as to be nauseating.
Romney's worst moments were the shots at McCain where he tried to paint the Navy vet as a Washington insider, saying we need a President "who has actually had a job in the real economy." Let that sink in for a second.
Mitt Romney's dad owned the American Motor Corporation, so I'm not sure "inheriting a financial empire" really qualifies as "having a job in the real economy." John McCain was in the military. Later, he went to Washington.
Apparently, these are not real jobs in the real economy to Romney. It didn't help my perception of Mittens that McCain was gracious, praising Romney and his supporters, noting that McCain's margin of victory "isn't enough for me to brag about, or for you to despair."
As the coup de grace, Romney scolded people that dislike President Bush by saying that "it's thanks to him that we've been safe these last six years." With Mitt, you can never tell whether he actually means something like that or is just trying to triangulate. Either way, his spiel was a real channel-changer.