Tonight’s victory speech was Mitt Romney at his best. You could see the emotion in his eyes; his words were dignified and restrained. Impressively, Romney did not traffic in the wild charges of a Gingrich or a Santorum. He criticized Obama on grounds that aligned with the disappointing facts:
“The middle class has been crushed. Nearly 24 million of our fellow Americans are still out of work, struggling to find work, or have just stopped looking. The median income has dropped 10 percent in four years. Soldiers returning from the front lines are waiting in unemployment lines. Our debt is too high and our opportunities too few.
“And this president wakes up every morning, looks out across America and is proud to announce, ‘It could be worse.’
“It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse?
“Of course not.
“What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better.
I could do without the gratuitous slams at Europe. One of Romney’s applause lines—“He chastises friends like Israel; I’ll stand with our friends”—applies also to friends like Germany, Denmark and France, especially in this time of Eurozone financial crisis.
But this was moving and true, I think:
“The path I lay out is not one paved with ever increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurances that government will always be the solution. If this election is a bidding war for who can promise more benefits, then I’m not your president. You have that president today.
“But if you want to make this election about restoring American greatness, then I hope you will join us.
“If you believe the disappointments of the last few years are a detour, not our destiny, then I am asking for your vote.
“I’m asking each of you to remember how special it is to be an American.
“I want you to remember what it was like to be hopeful and excited about the future, not to dread each new headline.