Last Updated:December 1 @ 07:49 am

Charen: A Proud Moment

By Mona Charen

Mitt Romney delivered one of the best speeches of the year at the NAACP meeting in Houston. It made me proud to watch him.

Romney was wise to accept the invitation -- though, God knows, the temptation to decline must have been tremendous. The NAACP hasn't exactly covered itself in glory over the past few years. In 2000, the organization ran dishonest and disgraceful television and radio ads suggesting that George W. Bush had been somehow indifferent to the horrible lynching of James Byrd in Texas. More recently, the group -- theoretically dedicated to the best interests of black Americans -- has joined teachers unions in attempting to block charter schools and has condemned the tea party movement as racist.

Still, by attending the conference and describing the invitation as an "honor," Romney demonstrated an important trait in a leader: a readiness to be respectful to everyone -- particularly those with whom you disagree. Romney was graciousness itself when he told the group:

"I can't promise that you and I will agree on every issue. But I do promise that your hospitality to me today will be returned. We will know one another, and work to common purposes. I will seek your counsel. And if I am elected president, and you invite me to next year's convention, I would count it as a privilege, and my answer will be yes."

It also demonstrates a strength of character to address a less than supportive audience -- at least in the way Romney did it. He didn't pull his punches or pander. He was forthright, honest and persuasive.

Naturally, the mainstream press focused on the boos he received after promising to repeal Obamacare (though they hardly mentioned the standing ovation at the end). Leading liberals like Nancy Pelosi and Rachel Maddow even accused Romney of getting booed intentionally. "I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention," the House minority leader told Bloomberg TV. Maddow suggested on MSNBC that "he wanted to wear that around his neck like a badge of courage."

It goes without saying that if any conservative group had booed a liberal speaker, Maddow, Pelosi and the gang would be purple with rage about the "intolerance" and "lack of civility" on the right.

But never mind the liberal claque. Romney's speech was a model of what political discourse should be. Rather than minimize his devotion to free enterprise, Romney embraced it with a fresh and effective image:

"I am also a believer in the free-enterprise system. I believe it can bring change where so many well-meaning government programs have failed. I've never heard anyone look around an impoverished neighborhood and say: 'You know, there's too much free enterprise around here. Too many shops, too many jobs, too many people putting money in the bank.'"

Nice. As with the true story of Romneycare (a subject I addressed in a recent column), Romney had a good story to tell about his record in Massachusetts. Romney had pushed for higher standards, merit pay for outstanding teachers and greater parental choice through expanded charter schools. This provoked the ire of the Massachusetts teachers unions, who were able to get the legislature to pass a moratorium on new charter schools. Romney recalled: "As governor, I vetoed the bill blocking charter schools. But our legislature was 87 percent Democrat, and my veto could have been easily overridden. So I joined with the Black Legislative Caucus, and their votes helped preserve my veto, which meant that new charter schools, including some in urban neighborhoods, would be opened."

In one deft stroke, Romney placed himself on the side of poor kids who deserve better from the education system, while also reminding his somewhat hidebound audience that many African-Americans agree with him.

Finally, while few seemed to notice, Romney mentioned one aspect of his planned reform of entitlements that contradicts the caricature of him as the candidate of the rich. As part of a plan to reduce soaring entitlement spending, he said, he would reform Social Security and Medicare, "in part by means-testing their benefits."

Is this not exactly the sort of straight talk pundits and analysts are forever lamenting the lack of in our politics? Is it not the polar opposite of the interest group chuck wagon President Obama has been driving for months?

It is. And if Romney keeps this up, it will be remembered as a turning point in the campaign.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



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  1. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    July 13, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

    Dead on Mona, I enjoy your commentary, as I find it to be well researched, and thought out. Thank you for your insights.

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  2. CharieComment by Charie
    July 13, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

    I watched the video of Mitt’s speech and I too, thought he did a superb job. He spoke as a leader, not a panderer. He looked as though he were prepared for boos when he mentioned “Obamacare” and was very cool while they were booing. It seemed very much like they were playing a game. The boos actually sounded like they were happening because it was a requirement.

    The applause was polite and in a later interview he said there was a standing O at the end. I didn’t see that. The Liberal sites are going bananas about the boos saying he was booed through the speech. He wasn’t, that’s just wishful thinking on their part.

    On one Black Liberal site a man posted that Romney bused in 200 people to be his clacque. A post afterward said, ‘I didn’t know he knew any black people” Yeah, like 200 white Republicans wouldn’t be noticed at the NAACP. LOL

    One woman remarked, as though it was a terrible thing that there are charter schools on every corner in LA, like drugstores.

    At that point I’d read all I could stand.

    Good article, Mona.

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  3. lanimom229Comment by lanimom229
    July 13, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    Romney is a gentleman, a man among men. He exudes grace and charm. He is intelligent, smart enough to get this country on the right track. He will have a huge mess to clean up but he will do it and not blame anyone for the Governments condition. He won’t have to say anything because we all know where the mess came from. I “betcha” that the country will have a budget!One that will be agreed to by the senate and adhered to. BHO does not have the qualities of this man. Never has never will. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing and he has/is steeling all our clothing

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