This will be just a quick round-up on my thoughts on this year’s Republican convention. I’ll be updating this post as each day of the four day affair ends.
It’s OK to be Gay
Entrepreneur Peter Thiel is one odd dude. He wants to set up islands that are independent countries (seasteading). He has spoken out against democracy as a working system. He wants to be frozen after death so he can be revived when medical technology allows him to keep living. On the more conventional side, he founded PayPal and recently drove the web site Gawker into bankruptcy. All this aside, the most striking thing about Thiel is that he is gay, told the RNC crowd that he is gay and proud of it, and got … applause! Is the Republican party inching toward Libertarianism? You be the judge.
The Trump Kids – The Grand Finale
Ivanka Trump – wow, just wow! As an old fan of The Apprentice, I watched Ivanka in the board room and had mixed feelings about her. She seemed a bit cold and detached. She also seemed smart as a tack and that was on full display at the convention on Day 4. Ivanka used construction as a metaphor for why Donald would be perfect for the Presidency. From the ability to get a project done, to the need to work with an economically and ethnically diverse group of people, the construction industry was used by Ivanka as a case study for why Donald Trump has the skills to run this country. Then, in a departure from conservative dogma, Ivanka acknowledged the pay gap between men and women. She said the gap exists particularly for older women returning to the workforce after child-bearing. She called for a robust child care system to put women on an equal footing in this regard. AND — get this — said she would personally see that it gets done if Daddy was elected. Does this suggest Donald will have major government roles for his children? Her delivery was near perfect. I pity the fool that has to follow her on stage. Which brings us to …
The Main Event
Donald spoke for a long long long long time. I think it clocked in at about an hour and 15 minutes. It reminded me of the Will Smith film “Ali”, a three hour biopic of Muhammad Ali that should have been two hours. With editing, Trump’s speech would have been one of the better acceptance speeches in RNC history. He painted a grim picture of a country gripped in crime, terrorism and corruption. He swore at the outset that he wasn’t going to lie to the audience and indeed his perception of our current state is shared by many Americans. He specified few solutions but these acceptance speeches typically don’t rise to that standard. What specifics did Mitt or McCain offer in 2012 and 2008?
There were two standout moments of the speech, both of which I believe were ad-libbed. The first was when Trump greeted the audience chants of “lock her up” with “let’s defeat her in November’. This was reminiscent of Obama answering boos at rallies with “don’t boo, vote”. The other moment which was near jaw dropping occurred when Trump pledged to protect the LGBTQ community from foreign ideologies out to kill them. After the crowd cheered, Trump said he was happy the crowd reacted that way. Holy crap! A conservative crowd shows tolerance, hell, even heartfelt concern for gays and the nominee encourages it!
Perhaps the real achievement of Trump’s speech was his ability to suggest his hard-ass approaches, “the law and order candidate”, etc., would benefit ALL citizens. Blacks would be lifted by an attack on ghetto crime. Hispanics would be lifted by an attack on illegal immigration. This was a speech that made Trump tolerable to THINKING liberals who aren’t just knee-jerk partisan.
Much has been said in the past few days about how negative this convention has been. Folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I predict the Democratic Convention next week will be at least as negative in its attack against the Donald. Tune in here next week for my day by day blow by blow.
The GOP is Racist Meme
While it is true that the delegate audience is overwhelmingly white, the minority guest speakers had the full attention of the audience. One example, on Day 3 was pastor Darrell Scott. I’ve seen the pastor on news shows speaking up for the Donald, so I kinda knew his spiel already. I focused more on the audience and they were with him 100%. It might be time to start considering that the GOP’s race problem is more one of poor outreach vs actual disdain or racism. Conservative blacks (few and far between) certainly seemed welcome and at home at this event.
Why Didn’t This Man Get the Nomination? Booooooring!!!
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Enough said. (At least he kept the “pledge”).
Marco Phones it In
Florida Senator Marco Rubio sent a video to the convention. He gave a lukewarm endorsement of Trump. He didn’t seem particularly inspired.
I Do Not Like Trump, Sam I Am
Texas Senator and Dr. Seuss filibusterer, Ted Cruz created chaos when he refused to endorse the GOP nominee. His “vote your conscience” plea was about as explicit a way as possible to say “Donald is an asshole.” The New York delegation had a collective aneurysm. Ted made matters worse by thanking the delegation for their enthusiasm, in his typical passive aggressive way that makes you want to punch him in the face. But it must be said that this was an odd mixture of honor and dishonor. It is dishonorable to take a pledge and then discard it. On the other hand, Ted’s wife and father were personally besmirched by Donald and his campaign team. What self respecting man could endorse Donald after that? You have to give the trouble maker credit for putting his foot down and refusing to exhibit the hypocrisy demonstrated by his fellow primary contenders.
The Trump Kids Part 2
Eric Trump was ok. He couldn’t match the skill of his older brother Don Jr. but he did a good job. It is clear that the boys dearly love their father and while that does not qualify Donald to handle the nuclear codes, it does humanize him.
Newt, Cleanup in Aisle 5
It fell to SOMEBODY to clean up Ted Cruz’s mess and Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and Washington fixture was the man to do it. Newt basically said the only way to “vote your conscience” was to vote for Donald Trump; otherwise Hillary wins. He then spent the balance of his address on the ISIL threat. I must admit, when he was done I felt a lot less cozy in my Naperville living room than before he began. Donald was ultimately right. Newt is a great surrogate and probably a poor Veep choice.
The Veep, a 21st Century Ronald Reagan
While the Donald would like us to believe he is some sort of reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, the true Reagan doppelganger is the Veep choice, Mike Pence. In accepting the nomination for VP, Pence reminded me of Reagan in his self deprecating humor, the cadence of his speech, his corniness, his down-home regular guy approach. Pence was a right wing radio host so he is comfortable in front of the mic. My only problem with him was that his speaking style doesn’t lend itself to a long speech and I found the speech overly long. MSNBC dinged Trump for not staying on the stage longer with Pence. I found nothing wrong with it – for once Trump was letting someone else get the limelight. The good news is Pence left the crowd energized and he was the last speaker of the night so we didn’t get anyone talking to a half empty room like the previous two nights.
After Paul Manafort (who should be canned pronto) said nothing to see here about the plagiarism mini-scandal, a Trump ghostwriter came forward to admit she helped Melania with the speech and inadvertently put Michele’s words in there. She offered her resignation, which was refused by Trump. Bottom line: Melania vindicated and Trump looking like a loyal, noble stand-up employer. Not bad for a 3 day scandal.
Another ghostwriter, the dude who actually wrote “The Art of the Deal”, Trump’s mega bestseller, was interviewed in the New Yorker magazine and said Trump could not be trusted with the nuclear codes. Unfortunately, I smell a washed up ghostwriter trying to revive his career. Can you spell opportunist?
Trump Has Made Pols Booooooring!
Whether it was Cotton and Sessions on day 1 or Ryan and McConnell on day 2, the verdict is the same – virtual snooze fest. Donald’s unorthodox diarrhea of the mouth speaking style has rendered the speeches of “professional” politicians wooden, predictable and full of platitudes. Next.
From my thinking, business endorsements should be Donald Trump’s bread and butter. Much more than Mitt Romney, having never been a politician, Donald is selling himself as a business success story. Hence, speakers like Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, are a more logical choice here than at previous conventions. I’m actually aware of the UFC due to my studies related to my day job. As an organization, they are consummate sales people. White’s endorsement of the Donald shed light on the businessman and the personal side as well. Good pitch, short and sweet.
The Just-the-Facts-Ma’am Barn Burner
Without the histrionics of Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie offered a searing indictment of Hillary Clinton. He listed her various “crimes” and in a call and response pattern got the crowd to pronounce her “guilty” on all counts. It was both entertaining and effective. Not too many good words about Trump but that has been typical of the convention so far.
The Trump Kids Part 1
Tiffany and Donald Jr. took turns at the mic. Tiffany came off like a stuck-up snotty brat who frankly described an absentee Dad, albeit a kind one. She is the product of Donald and Marla Maples and from what I could gather was not raised near Donald after the divorce. I found her presentation cringe-worthy but I have to give her props for speaking to a crowd like that at the tender age of 22. She just “graduated college” (arrrrrrgh!!!!!) in June – she went to U. Penn. I’m still in shock that U. Penn. didn’t teach her that people graduate FROM college.
Don Jr., familiar to most viewers as Dad’s side kick in the board room on The Apprentice, pretty much hit it out of the park. No warm and fuzzy family stories but instead a crystal clear portrait of a successful businessman with a feel for “the common man”. His only slip was his description of Donald teaching his grand-kids how to swing a golf club. Sorry, golf ain’t the game for the common man. But that’s a minor quibble. Junior successfully pivoted from the professional to the political, painting his father as the solution to America’s problems. A stellar performance.
Honorable mention goes to Dr. Ben Carson who kept us entertained throughout the primary season. He said Hillary was a follower of a follower of Lucifer (a reference to Saul Alinsky) and concluded by warning us that if we don’t recognize God’s grace, He will go elsewhere and leave us to our own devices. Hard to understand why he isn’t the nominee!
Rick Perry Hypocrisy Avoidance
Rick, who declared Donald Trump a “cancer” on conservatism managed to avoid utter hypocrisy by not really singing Donald’s praises. He mainly just introduced war hero Marcus Luttrell.
Chachi Was There
Yes, Scott Baio of “Joannie Loves Chachi” fame was a speaker. He did better than Clint Eastwood.
Was Grief Exploited?
I don’t know what to think about the heart wrenching speech given by Pat Smith, whose son was one of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi terrorist attack. She was there of her own free will yet I can’t get the nasty taste out of my mouth that she has become a political pawn. I will say this – she makes everyone from Hillary Clinton to the liberal media who say “but she’s mistaken”, look heartless and cruel. If you’re not moved by this woman’s pain, you have no heart.
Blacks Back the Donald
Jamiel Shaw and Sheriff David Clarke added some color to the predominantly white affair. Shaw lost his son to an illegal immigrant and Clarke is an outspoken critic of Black Lives Matter. I was impressed by how restrained Clarke was. I have seen him on YouTube and Fox and I expected a barn burner.
Senators Tom Cotton and Jeff Sessions. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Rudy and Joni
Rudy Giuliani was a throwback to Jennifer Granholm at an old Dem Convention, in other words OVER THE TOP. I thought old Rudy might stroke out right there on the stage. Still I found the speech effective. Senator Joni Ernst earned her place in history by declaring ISIL present in all 50 states of the union. This of course was in line with the theme of the first night: be afraid, be very afraid!
Michelle Obama – ahem – Melania Trump
In what was otherwise a perfectly fine speech by the First Lady Wannabe, Melania inexplicably lifted passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. This escapade deserves a post of its own. As of this writing, the Trump team says “you didn’t cut my arm off, it’s just a flesh wound“. Conservative radio personality Larry Elder tweeted:
So the “you did it too”defense is in full swing. Either Melania is a cheater (and her judgment in marrying Trump makes one wonder) or she has been badly screwed by a Trump staffer who helped her write the speech. Hard to tell if it will just blow over. MSNBC (expectedly) obsessed over it; CNN covered it; and Fox totally ignored it.
The only piece of day 1 that I missed that I still want to see was Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who led the chant “Lock her up” referring to Hillary belonging in the slammer.
The bar is open, what do you think?