Mitt Romney finally got exactly what he wanted tonight. A coming out party. A debutante's ball. A two-and-a-half-hour long very special episode of This Is Your Life, so the whole world can see just how gosh-darned great Mitt Romney really is. He's smart, successful, calm, dignified, loving, kind, and, oh, yeah, did we mention humble? Totally humble. And real. Authentic. Human. Honest. Funny. Did we say kind before? Let's just say kind again, to be sure.
Of course, the night had its flaws. Clint Eastwood seemed confused and a shadow of his former self as he stammered and interviewed an empty chair. Marco Rubio was almost too good, too human, as he introduced Romney. When he's talking about policy, Rubio gets scary, but when he's talking about himself, he seems expansive, friendly, happy. Luckily, he let a little peevishness shine through when he glared at delegates who dared interrupt his soaring rhetoric with their cries of "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!"
And the earlier programming was too easily distracted, mentioning and re-mentioning the same parts of Romney's biography over and over again—the (newly 9/11-ified) Olympics, the creation of Staples—and deftly avoiding other parts the base isn't happy with, like Romneycare. And let's not even talk about those protesters, who almost toppled the speech's energy with their cries of "people over profits!" I'm sure Mitt doesn't want to talk about those protesters, either.
But all-in-all, Mitt should be happy with himself. He didn't fuck up his speech. He got properly pissed-off at the right parts, even though he stumbled on the humorous parts, looking awkward as he waited for people to laugh. He shouted out to evangelicals with his calls for the banning of abortion and gay marriage.
And he even pulled one of his famous pranks, when he said he'd create twelve million jobs in four years. Twelve million! Can you imagine the roars of laughter in the writers' room when that number came up? Why not 16 million? Why not 8? Hell, why not 64? Eh, let's go with twelve. It's lower but still high, a likable number. There was no policy to back up that number, only a 5-point plan involving killing Obamacare, lowering taxes and regulations, cutting the deficit, promoting school vouchers, and drilling for oil on American land. Over half of those things have absolutely nothing to do with small business creating jobs at all in the short term, and would probably re-cripple the economy, Bush-style, in the long term. So, get it? That's rich. That's a real knee-slapper. And it was the only policy in the whole speech, aside from a vigorous remounting of the Bush doctrine.
But that doesn't matter, either. What matters is that Mitt Romney spent eleven hours over three days listening to his enemies sing his praises to the heavens. Gingrich, Santorum—he crushed them all, and made them lavish hosannas upon him after the fact. His whole party rallied around him, and they almost made it feel convincing. Still, nobody likes Mitt Romney. But they will back him now, because they have no choice. They will pretend that they've always tolerated his wishy-washiness, his powdery touch, his creepy smile.
And as Romney's celebration ended and the perfect balloons fell from the ceiling perfectly, I sat there in the Tampa Times Forum looking down at him relishing his moment, and I thought to myself, "Huh. I guess money really can buy you love."