We heard no discussion from the Tampa stage about how the GOP would address women's health and reproductive issues, or the gender wage gap, or employment discrimination, or child care. There was no talk of a DREAM Act, modified or otherwise, let alone broader immigration reform. If anyone attempted an appeal to African-Americans, in speech or film or imagery, I must have missed it.

This entire week was dedicated to giving people who don't like the modern conservative movement permission to vote for Romney, by assuring them that his Republican Party doesn't include, or listen to, those nasty, brutish conservatives.

As I suggested above, the conservatives Mitt's been sucking up to for five years seem remarkably unperturbed at being so thoroughly dismissed as he accepted their nomination. Perhaps their desperation to oust Obama is keeping them quiet, or else they're just too stupid to realize what happened. I'm not going to try to say which it is.


Unfortunately for Romney, the TV ratings strongly suggest that this strategy of distancing himself from the red-meat conservatives was pointless. Just about the only people watching were the red-meat conservatives themselves.

Fox News Channel, the network for these right-wingers, was the most watched during the hour of broadcast network coverage each of the three nights — by a very wide margin. Viewership on all other networks declined between 25 and 50 percent from 2008.

It was even worse during the rest of prime time. On average, only about two million people were watching the convention, on any network other than Fox, prior to 10 pm Eastern time.

In any event, now that his infomercial is over, Romney is back to the off-camera work of getting conservatives eager to come vote for him. You can tell, because in one of his first post-convention appearances, in Ohio on Saturday, one of the five speakers — all white males — called out, "Let's hear it for the Tea Party!" That phrase, Tea Party, had not been uttered from the stage at the GOP's first nominating convention since the start of the movement — an extraordinary slap that nobody in the Tea Party seemed to notice.

David Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.

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