The Breakfast Table

Ann Romney’s speech may have connected with women in the convention hall better than anything anyone else said.

She wasn’t speaking to me. Good thing, because I have already forgotten what Ann Romney said.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

It’s almost always the case that the people writing about political speeches are not the target audience, so we are left to try to imagine what it might be like to be the person the speech was meant to sway. But for some reason I feel especially dubious about journalistic speculation—my own included—on the emotional power of this speech.

It was a speech written for the base; no one else cares about conventions. I am experiencing the convention mostly through Dave Weigel’s Twitter feed, and Dave Weigel’s Twitter feed informs us that women were crying, as were men. This came as a surprise to me, but then I am not a mother, not devoted to a political party, and not the kind of person, regrettably, who owns a gold elephant belt buckle. If mothers find it terribly moving when Ann Romney says they have to “work a little harder to make everything right,” that’s just one more mystery to ascribe to the psychology of hard-core partisans. People apparently wanted to know that Ann Romney is like them in some extremely general way and that Ann Romney, who is like them, trusts Mitt not to crumble when it is pointed out to him that budget cuts will be unpopular.

I’ve already forgotten almost every word of Ann Romney’s speech, though I do remember Nikki Haley informing us that “Ann Romney makes all women proud.” It seemed like an odd thing for the first female governor of South Carolina to say. And the remark was a reminder that we’d just seen a parade of reasonably smart, conventionally successful women trying and failing—as far as I could see—to woo the crowd from their no-doubt-fascinating side conversations. (This is with the exception of Mia Love and the accompanying Mia Love motivational fitness video, which came on too early for most people to watch.) Tuesday night was the night the GOP chose to showcase chromosomal diversity in its young talent, but the woman who connected was the most traditional woman in the room.


Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.