By Jon Keller

TAMPA (CBS) – So far this week here in Tampa at the Republican Convention, I’ve heard a lot of speeches. Over the course of my adult life, I don’t want to even think about the volume of political speechifying I’ve heard.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

And if I were under severe duress, I could probably recall only a thimbleful of it.

Some of the rhetoric seems to last in memory for more than a week or so after the convention, usually for unfortunate reasons, like George H.W. Bush’s soon-to-be-broken promise of no new taxes in 1988.

I don’t know if the speeches Tuesday night by Ann Romney and Chris Christie will prove to be memorable, but I did notice one thing about them – they worked best when the speaker was talking about personal things – family ties, important relationships, personal tragedies and triumphs – rather than spewing the same old political rhetoric.

In her testimony to her husband’s good qualities, Mrs. Romney wisely stuck to the personal; with all due respect, I don’t think there would have been much interest in her analysis of his economic recovery plan.

Gov. Christie held my attention best when he talked about his family background and the lessons he learned from his mother.

The only positive thing I remember from Mike Dukakis’s 1988 acceptance speech was his shout out to his late father.

This is about more than just the chronic rhetoric fatigue most voters develop by the time they’re twelve. Unless you’re gullible enough to swallow the most superficial hype when making a serious decision, most of us want some level of assurance that the people who want power over us are decent and relatively trustworthy, that their personal values are in acceptable order.

How they talk about and treat their loved ones is one of the few ways we have of truly doping this out.

We’re lucky this time around – both candidates for president are very good men, highly unlikely to turn into John Edwards down the road.

That may not help focus your decision. But for me it’s awfully reassuring starting point.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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