I got up early this morning Israel time to view the two main addresses of the Republican convention's first day of real business --the speech by Anne Romney and the keynote address by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Ann Romney was a witness for the defense and Chris Christie a witness for the prosecution, a role in which he has ample professional experience as a former state prosecutor.
It was Anne Romney's job to counteract the image that the Democrats want to stick to her husband - namely, that of an uncaring patrician who cannot empathize with the common American - and perhaps make him an object of jealousy to be taken down a peg.
In one of the major applause lines, she described her marriage to Mitt Romney not as a storybook marriage, but as a real marriage. It was a marriage that had chapters of multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. This may perhaps be reaching a bit, but the mention of breast cancer could possibly activate voter memories about former Senator John Edwards who was John Kerry's vice presidential running mate in 2004 and the different ways that Romney and Edwards handled similar crises.
Anne Romney's takeaway for the voters was that if Mitt Romney fostered the marriage in good times and bad, he could be relied upon, as Mrs. Romney promised, not to fail the American people.
She also described her husband as a charitable person, but as one who regards charity as a privilege rather than as a political talking point. Anne Romney has proven herself during the primaries to be an effective surrogate; she will pose a stark contrast to Michelle Obama, with the current first lady coming across as more assertive and independent, perhaps reflecting different attitudes in each party.
If Ann Romney was in charge of building up her husband's image, Chris Christie was there to set the tone of the ideological debate. The choice of Christie was not fortuitous; he knows how to stir up a crowd, but he was also a larger-than-life example of the Republican Party's hospitality to and encouragement of people whol pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. Nobody would suspect Chris Christie of being a patrician, more as someone to have a beer with.
Chris Christie established a connection between his mother, of Sicilian extraction, and the importance of achieving respect and doing what was needed, rather than being loved. We possibly could be seeing the emergence of a Republican attack line against Barack Obama.
In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens wrote about an Obama foreign policy that places a premium on the U.S. being loved rather than feared and argues that under Obama, the United States is neither loved nor feared nor respected.
Anticipating the Democratic attacks that Republican fiscal plans will impose hardships, Christie emphasized the need for politicians to treat the American people as adults and not pander to them. The Republicans, he promised, would tell the painful truth and he expected this generation of Americans to rise to the occasion as previous generations had done before them.
While the speech was almost devoid of foreign policy, Chris Christie lashed into the notion, one that the Republicans will try to pin on Obama, that America is in decline and that hopefully it can decline gracefully. Christie countered that he will not accept the notion that the American Century was something of the past and promised that Republicans would strive to ensure another American century.
The Republican Party has totally written off labor unions and Christie, as well South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, were proud of having scaled down the power of unions in their states, while continuing to defend the genuine interests and sustainable social benefits for the workers.