10:56 pm: Day 2 of the 2016 Republican National Convention adjourns after a prayer delivered by a Muslim. This is a pointless gesture; few Muslims if any will forget the suspicion Donald Trump has provoked towards them, few Republican voters will appreciate it, and few truly independent voters will let it influence their perceptions of that man. Night 2 of the Republican National Convention mostly offered subtle clues of the forced relationship between other elected Republicans–many of them absent from the RNC this year altogether–and their voters’ choice for President. Being an opposition party may be the condition that allows them all to postpone a reckoning over their own lack of common convictions.
10:53 pm: Ms. Brown just suggested that a President Trump would “shske things up” in Washington and “rebuild our infrastructure.” It really is grating to hear Republicans promise to achieve needed public policy aims that President Obama has talked about since getting elected but which Republicans have explicitly refused to pay for. Republicans in Congress even refused to pay for an infrastructure bank. Apparently a Republican President could pass new infrastructure spending because a Republican Congress would work with him.
I wonder how long Republicans’ honeymoon with President Clinton will last.
10:47 pm: Actress Kimberlin Brown just defended young people not carrying health insurance because they’re healthy. Yes, this was in the service of an argument against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, most of the assembled RNC audience this evening looks more than old-enough to shout “Keep your government hands off of my Medicare!”
10:42 pm: There is a nice Earth, Wind and Fire musical interlude as security surround yet-another Code Pink protester.
10:40 pm: “I’m proud to support Donald Trump.” Those words came out of Dr. Carson’s mouth and they settled to be delivered without ambivalence, but they still sound utterly bizarre, like if he were to say that the Old Testament Patriarch Joseph built the Pyramids to store grain or something.
10:38 pm: Dr. Carson attacks Hillary Clinton as a supposed lifelong acolyte of Saul Alinsky. Booo, boo Saul Alinsky! An hour ago Hillary Clinton was an insensible representative of the Washington status quo; now she is implicated in anti-government radicalism.
Maybe Dr. Carson isn’t aware that both Governor Palin and Speaker Gingrich used the Saul Alinsky link on Barack Obama and that there’s no evidence it helped in either 2008 or 2012–or maybe Republicans think they need all the vague attack lines they can get this year.
10:37 pm: Dr. Carson appeals to the “Never Trump” Republicans–Conservatives whom are justifiably horrified by both Donald Trump’s character and his policy proposals–with the best appeal to unity that Republicans are going to have this year: A President Clinton would make Federal Court and Supreme Court appointments that would rule on constitutional law for generations, forever changing this country.
10:33 pm: Dr. Ben Carson, a brilliant neurosurgeon who ran a Presidential candidacy that was so Christian-themed that he seemed almost eager to demonstrate how little he knew about Ancient Egypt, takes the stage.
10:22 pm: President Obama has an agenda of higher Federal education funding at all levels, job retraining programs, infrastructure spending and road building, and investments in job-creating new technologies; he has simply been blocked from implementing most of these job-creating initiatives by Congressional Republicans, as part of their protracted strategy to generate anger among the public at the President. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) speaks of her fellow Mountain Staters’ desire for a President who will “fight-fight for our jobs”. It’s sad; her party talks in generalities that do not countenance what the fraying White working class actually needs while President Obama proposes actual policies. But President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, advocacy of gun control legislation, and executive orders protecting many illegal immigrants, while rationally-designed, have struck at many Conservative symbols of personal security simultaneously.
10:14 pm: Donald Trump Jr. mentions the Benghazi terrorist attack, and his speech is again interrupted by refrains of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” I wonder how these constant angry demands to jail the other party’s Presidential candidate will play with the wider public.
10:08 pm: “The American people are smart–they’re street smart. They don’t necessarily have paper credentials…” Beginning in 2008, the resentment–the raging inferiority complex that ate away at the spiritual pretensions of the American Right–went from subliminal to overt as anger and dread became the substance of the RNC that year. The purpose of this speech is a feat of the absurd, to make insecure or vulnerable White Americans who feel invisible identify with Donald Trump.
10:05 pm: Donald Trump’s son calls his father “a boy from New Jersey” who “changed the skyline of New York.” I get it, I get it, this is the part where the RNC planners try to make us all forget that Donald Trump inherited $200 million, and that he made some staggeringly-bad investments, and that his current wealth of billions says a lot more about how forgiving our current political, legal, and economic arrangements are of the very-rich than they do about Donald Trump’s business acuity. Donald Trump is not a self-made mean, and he doesn’t have the common touch, just a classic huckster’s instinct. He isn’t our era’s Pericles; he is our Kleon.
10:04 pm: Donald Trump Jr. assures us that “This is the most-important election of our lifetimes.” Republicans have said this before, but I think this year it’s…a bit of a gamble to remind voters outside of this Convention hall of how important this election is; the wider public might want to elect someone more…serious.
10:00 pm: It’s 10:00 on Night 2 of the Republican National Convention…The theme of the evening is the economy and jobs…The Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House, and House Majority Leader have already spoken…Who is on now? Why, it’s Kerry Woolard, General Manager of Trump Winery.
9:54 pm: Donald Trump’s daughter Tiffany Trump, who just graduated from college, tells us that her father wrote notes of encouragement to her on her report cards. Also, he was the first phone call she received after learning of the death of someone very close.
9:48 pm: Governor Christie’s speech is interrupted by the chant of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” the 4th time? the 5th time? So far, the great catalysts of enthusiasm I can find in the 2016 Republican National Convention involve going about armed, deporting immigrants, building a wall, batting refugees entrance to the United States, and jailing the other party’s Presidential candidate.
I mean, I just want the Trump University plaintiffs to get their day in court…OK, maybe a criminal trial that makes Governor Christie as a conspirator in Bridgegate would have a sweet relish to it after Christie’s many months of bellicosity towards every opponent.
9:39-9:45 pm: Governor Christie does his prosecutorial act, accusing Clinton of delivering Libya to anarchy, protecting Boko Haram in Nigeria, and embracing violence-prone dictators in both Syria and Russia. Has Governor Christie ever listened to Secretary Clinton talk? I have to say, I’d just be embarrassed to be delivering the speech he’s giving right now.
9:37 pm: Governor Christie mentions Secretary Hillary Clinton, and the Convention breaks-out into an apparently spontaneous chant of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” I just find this Republican mainstreaming of labeling any public figure they oppose a criminal so endearing…
Governor Christie looks uncomfortable, shy, during this chant. No, really, he does. It was probably a mistake when he used his Port Authority connections to shut-down George Washington Bridge access during several weekdays in September 2013 to take petty revenge against a Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse him for re-election; he’s apparently a fugitive from his own sense of irony now.
9:36 pm: Scandal-dogged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the stage. I missed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’s speech somehow; that’s funny, I watched it…
9:30 pm: “…What do yout say we unify this party?” Speaker Ryan exhibits uncharacteristic temerity in making an appeal to party unity after delivering the speech he just gave. He talked at length and with great enthusiasm about a smaller Federal Government, popular sovereignty and free market-driven prosperity. This isn’t the message that won this year’s Republican Presidential Primary with an unprecedented number of votes. Republicans like Speaker Ryan and Democrats respect him, but his agenda clashes radically with his party’s Presidential candidate. Republicans nationwide nominated Donald Trump; no one outside of rural and exurban southwestern Wisconsin has ever voted for Paul Ryan. Can he make a serious appeal to party unity on terms he can accept?
9:24 pm: Speaker Ryan’s speech made a nominal reference to Donald Trump becoming President, but has now moved-on to invoking Ronald Reagan. This is the first clear example I’ve seen of what pundits have said they expect from this year’s RNC: Such Establishment Republicans as are willing to compromise themselves by supporting Donald Trump will use their prime time speech time to talk-up their own agenda. Donald Trump just wants to be President; if he were actually to get elected, Paul Ryan would still at least nominally have the House of Representatives.
9:19 pm: “You know, all of this has a familiar ring to it. Students of trivia will recall that, once upon a time, I was this party’s nominee for Vice President.” House Speaker Paul Ryan jokes about having moved on to other things. “I’ve found some things to keep me busy…” Ryan’s speech is a little too self-conscious. “Have we had our disagreements? Yes, we have. Do you know what I call that? Signs of life!” Yes, Donald Trump and “Low-Energy Jeb,” “Little Rubio,” “Lyin’ Ted” and the minor tragedy of Marco Rubio–the Great Communicator of the Right, a possible bridge figure between the Tea Party and Hispanic Americans reduced to making fun of Donald Trump’s hands–these are the signs of vitalizing frictions within the Republican Party!
9:13 pm: Senator McConnell refers to the “cynicism” of Congressional Democrats. He mentions a Senate bill to combat the mosquitos carrying the zika virus and a Defense spending bill that were both recently blocked by Democrats in the Senate. “What in the world do these people think public service is about?” What he doesn’t say is that those bills were coupled with a measure defunding Planned Parenthood, and that the point of drafting those bills was to get Senate Democrats to vote against them. It takes an extraordinary cynicism indeed to make your own hypocrisy the core of your strategy.
9:09 pm: “Say what you will about Barack Obama, he never his the fact that he wanted to move the country to the far-Left…” Ah yes, the Senate Majority Leader takes-on the ungainly burden of explaining to a sea of amassed true believers why, upon closer inspection, not the election of Barack Obama but Hillary Clinton, already a known quality, would mark the end of Western civilization.
9:08 pm: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) takes the stage, to a surprising volley of boos and jeers. He’s going to make his case for the election of Donald Trump…Get ready to schadenfreude!
9:00 pm: Natalie Gulbis, a professional golfer and founder of a boys’ and girls’ club, is the next speaker. Her personal testimonial of Donald Trump as a source of counsel and support in encouraging her to think of herself as a businessman is well-delivered; it’s a rare speech at this Convention in being positive and dealing with Donald Trump’s character in ways that are not vague. It doesn’t change the fact that Trump attributed tough primary debate questions from FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly to her being on her period, or that he attacked fellow Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina by making fun of her face, and tried to make-up with her in public by…complimenting her looks.
8:58 pm: “A Hillary Clinton Supreme Court means your right to own a firearm is gone.” I just tuned-in, and already there is senseless hyperbole. When exactly did it become the almost universally-held position among Republican politicians and activists that any proposal of a gun control regulation whatsoever constituted evidence of a plan to seize every American’s guns?