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The GOP convenes

The Republicans are gathered in Tampa this week for their convention and we can expect all the usual razzamatazz and ballyhoo that goes with such gatherings. But though we can indeed expect the usual, it is fair to say that this is anything but a usual time.

As much as the rival political camps have been arguing over what to do about the still struggling U.S. economy, what many people are lately concluding is that the forces that shape economies and economies are not all to do with government, or the party in power.

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President Obama has been criticized roundly by Mitt Romney for his record over the past four years on the economy, and the convention will provide the biggest platform yet for Romney to set out his stall and tell voters how he would do things differently.

But does it matter much these days what a president does? Romney, more than Obama, has had a close up view of how major corporations shape an economy, how they go about making decisions and implementing them, often, and has been especially the case in recent years, in the face of near total government paralysis.

So when Romney says that, as president, he can bring to bear his experience in the business and corporate world he is being truthful in what he says.

But he also has to convince voters that a Romney presidency, the White House version, will be very different from a Romney chief executive position in, say, Bain Capital.

This will require some finessing by the candidate. Indeed, and with more critical and scrutinizing voters in mind, he will have to indicate and explain how he will employ his business experience - even as being president might require him to act in ways that run counter to prior corporate experience and practice.

His task, then, is to present a Mitt Romney for the future that is perhaps quite different from the Mitt Romney of the past. But meeting such a task head-on is the opportunity that a convention offers.

In its aftermath, and in the few days that comprise the afterglow, the post-convention Mitt Romney, now fully secured in his position as his party standard bearer, has a renewed opportunity to lay out his stall and explain why the future of the country should be in his hands and those of his party colleagues. We shall watch with interest as he goes about this critical task.