Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, right and his vice presidential...

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, right and his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan wave to the crowd at the close of the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, in Tampa, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Republican convention in Tampa was a dress rehearsal for the fall election. Say nothing, admit nothing and spew out goofball statistics and claims.

Voters were generally clueless about Mitt Romney before the convention, and this carefully staged, minutely scripted event ensured that did not change.

Keynote speaker Gov. Chris Christie (R-Snookie) set the tone. The New Jersey gas bag ranted about the power of ideas, without offering a single insight -- a single clue -- about where the party's ticket would lead the nation. Christie only deepened the mystery of who the presidential and vice-presidential nominees are, and what they intend to do.

The only bit of candor was signs that proclaimed, "We Built It." An apparent reference to the GOP's role in inflating the federal deficit. Two wars and lucrative tax cuts for the wealthy ran up a pile of debt.

Ann Romney's homage to her spouse was a soulful connection with all the other women in America with six houses and an expensive hobby to maintain.

Fortunately, and thankfully, the Romneys were able to afford quality health care to deal with her medical conditions. Tens of millions of Americans envy her access to health care.

Repeal of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act is a primary target for a Romney administration. His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-PantsOnFire), makes all kinds of bogus claims about the Obama plan. Ryan's approach would gut Medicaid's health care for the poorest Americans, and turn Medicare into a voucher system, so the elderly could, you know, comparison shop for deals in medical coverage.

Ryan is truly a piece of work. For most of his adult life, taxpayers have paid his salary, provided his health insurance and funded a nice pension. He hates government, but enjoys the perks.

Ryan and his Republican cohorts in Congress really get wacky with Social Security. They want to turn it into a giant 401(k) for future generations.

The scam comes full circle with their enthusiasm for the likes of the JOBS Act. The law, Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, does nothing more than strip ordinary investors of basic protections from the securities industry. Administration officials have resisted a push to quickly put the law into effect.

Romney and Ryan make stuff up about the Affordable Care Act's impact on Medicare. It gets worse with promises to rein in the federal deficit. Ryan's arithmetic is particularly inventive and, um, lacking in details.

He wants more tax cuts, and lots more spending on the military. So how to balance the costs and loss of revenue? By eliminating tax breaks. Whose? He never gets that far. The scary part is Ryan chairs the House Budget Committee.

Ryan has trouble admitting he pursued budget earmarks and stimulus money. Same as Romney and the 2002 Winter Olympics he claims to have salvaged. Well, yes, with the help of a $2.7-billion federal bailout for Salt Lake City infrastructure and management of the games.

Did you hear a lot about foreign policy at the GOP convention? What are they going to do, bring back Condoleezza Rice? Oh.

Everyone knows the GOP opposes a woman's right to make her own decisions about health care and pregnancy without interference by government. I suspect the issue goes deeper than Roe v. Wade; back to Griswold v. Connecticut and the right to use contraception.

The convention is over, and Romney and Ryan are still strangers to the country. Try this: Imagine Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover on the same ticket.

Lance Dickie is a columnist for The Seattle Times. His email address is