The Reagan hologram may have been cancelled so as not to upstage Mitt Romney, but Republicans still spent more time at the convention this week living in the past rather than planning for the future.
On Hardball Friday night, host Chris Matthews played a super cut of the myriad Republican National Convention speakers paying homage to the Founding Fathers, and asked former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey about the backward-looking focus. Armey is currently Chairman of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks.
Government today "has a lack of respect for real people," Armey said, as a way of explaining why Republicans have a rosier view of 18th-century government. Matthews pointed out that two groups of "real people" weren't exactly respected by the era of Founding Fathers government: women and black Americans, who have since gained voting rights, pointing out one serious problem with the Republicans' focus on the past.
Armey responded that those are "two very, very commendable points of progress in the history of this country," but that they were both achieved by amending the Constitution. "This is the way we make progress," he said. "By building on the solid foundation that we know is reliable, that will carry us forward."
"The 1964 Civil Rights Act wasn't an amendment," Matthews said. Quibbles about the constitutional-legislative process aside, Romney has been polling significantly behind Obama with the key constituencies of women and minorities so far this campaign season. The Republicans may have been trying to close that gap by highlighting Ann Romney, Condi Rice and Marco Rubio as convention speakers this week, but Clint Eastwood stole the show.