Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Civility Watchdog: Gov. Mitt Romney's Concession Speech

On November 7, 2012, Republican candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) addressed his supporters while conceding defeat in his race against President Barack Obama [RCP Video and Transcript]. Below are some of the highlights concerning civil, productive debate:
The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work.
Comment: This is "unify the country" rhetoric. What is Romney going to do to stop the "bickering" and "posturing"? These seem to be euphemisms for incivility, which is something Romney (and Obama) contributed to in the campaign with name-calling and distortion, demonizing, etc. Will Romney admit to what he's done wrong in order to foster good will? Or is this just more empty rhetoric -- typical of politicians and pundits -- in which they lament incivility in the abstract without owning up to specific instances of their own misbehavior?

We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family.
Comment: Our politicians (and pundits) ought to exhibit these qualities, too. What did Romney do to exemplify them in his campaign? In particular, how did he demonstrate honesty and integrity in the form of civility? Currently, our political leaders are setting a bad example when it comes to civil debate, and Romney is a part of that. What's he going to do to change it?

And we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.
Comment: This is more "unify the country" rhetoric, as well as "politicizing" rhetoric. What does it mean to "put people before politics"? Without specifics, isn't this an empty platitude? What is Romney himself going to do to put people before politics? Will he apologize for his acts of incivility during the campaign? Or is he just going to leave people with the impression that incivility is a problem created by someone other than himself (the "only my opponents" caricature)?

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