11:09 pm: “If you looked at the calendar this morning, you might have noticed something: We are exactly 6 months away from the end of the Obama Presidency…”
6 months left in his term, and I miss President Obama fervently already.
“We like Mike! We like Mike! We like Mike! We like Mike!” I don’t know who came up with this chant or who got it started–Nice reminiscence of “We like Ike!” in it–but the stagecraft of it at his introductory moment in the midst of a divided party convention is brilliant. Is Governor Pence being cast as the Jon Snow of the cause of the Right? He may have been underestimated as a standard-carrier for the Republican Party.
11:04 pm: “…While this election will define the Presidency for the next 4 years, it may define the Supreme Court for the next 40. Think very carefully–Think very carefully about the consequences this will have for the Constitution…” Ahh, again, the best appeal Conservatives who can stand Donald Trump have for the Conservatives who can’t: You’re forgetting about the Supreme Court, ya know! The Democrats are only 1 vote on the highest court away from being able to undermine the cartel-like grip billionaires have on campaign finance in our country…
11:00 pm: Governor Pence just finished a passage in which he referred to the abandonment of many regions of the country due to the oversight of international trade patterns. I don’t think the current Republican Presidential candidate will ever appear as Presidential (as serious and as substantial, I mean to say) as his running mate does right now.
10:50 pm: Governor Pence says the things that governors usually want to be able to say: We’ve cut taxes and kept Indiana’s budget balanced while also increasing spending on highways, education and health care. I think a huge number of people, Left as well as Right, as of this speech are already hoping that this man will be the Dick Cheney to Donald Trump’s George W. Bush in the event that that bigoted and obscene blowhard actually wins the election in November. I suspect they are hoping it, Right as well as Left, more-fervently than they hoped it in the case of George W. Bush, a man who clearly lacked the proper sense of gravity and decision-making style of a good President but who at least had a substantive policy track record as Governor of Texas which you could use as a valid template for his approach to Federal domestic policy, and who wanted to do good. You can’t say either for Donald Trump.
10:43 pm: “…My running mate brings such enthusiasm to the party, so much charisma…I guess he just wanted to balance the ticket. Now, for those of you who don’t know me, which is most of you…” This is going to be a very strange Republican Presidential ticket, just as strange as the Establishment-Conservative, older, august and experienced war veteran Senator John McCain’s choice of soon-to-be populist Tea Party darling Governor Sarah Palin, for whom scrutiny is her eternal bane.
10:38 pm: “My fellow Americans, I could not be more-proud of our candidate for Vice President!” Haaah ha hah, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) didn’t say anything like that last night, and he doesn’t say it about Donald Trump tonight. I guess he is vwry carefully avoiding telling any lies while temporizing on the importance of Republican unity. Ryan’s introduction to his onetime fellow House Conservative and current Indiana Governor Mike Pence is truly enthusiastic; he obviously feels differently about what he’s saying now.
I kinda think that it was Paul Ryan who compelled Donald Trump to nominate as his running mate either Governor Pence or someone like him. That may have been the price of his grudging, purely pro-forma support.
10:36 pm: Musical interlude: All I can hear now is the refrain towards the end:
“It’s a put-on!/It’s a put-on!/Come to the party/dressed to kill…”
10:27 pm: Speaker Gingrich tells us were losing the War on Terror. He had ticked-off a list of Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks of just over a month’s time; a slashing on a train in Germany, 84 people killed in Nice, France by a truck driver on Bastille Day, a man who live-streamed his home invasion and killing of a police officer couple in Paris, the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando…He leaves-out quite a few Islamist terrorist attacks in Muslim countries, actually. Maybe Gingrich was concerned about holding the attention of his audience.
Yes, the former Speaker of the House is taking this in the direction of arguing that the United States cannot afford to accept refugees from Muslim countries. These terrorist actions weren’t the work of individuals resettled through refugee programs, and refugees settled in the United States as a class have an exemplary record of good behavior, but Donald Trump’s call to bar refugees from Muslim countries from settling in the United States is a fearful reaction that took Republicans by storm, and now needs a justifying principle from an academic type.
You know, going by theme, Speaker Gingrich really should have delivered this speech on Monday night–but then there wouldn’t have been as much room in prime time on that night for accounts of how illegal immigrants commit vehicular manslaughter and racial murder.
10:22 pm: Within 2 minutes of coming onstage at the RNC, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) explains to the assembled delegates that he thinks they didn’t understand something Senator Cruz said in part of his speech. With the longstanding attack of Conservatives against “Liberal elites in academia,” it’s a wonder to think how a man as professorial as the academic Newt Gingrich could have been such a powerful figure in this party, even a generation ago.
10:00 pm: Next we have taped remarks from Donald Trump’s children. One of his sons tells us that Trump is running for President because he never runs from a challenge, and that he always wants to do what he’s been told is impossible. This is such a startlingly shallow reason to run for President that it qualifies for nihilism; given the larger-than-life egoism of the candidate himself, I take the young man at his word.
In live remarks that follow immediately afterwards, one of Trump’s other sons speech has a simple refrain: “My father is running for you.” Nietzsche once said that a political party is not a favorable environment for critical thinking, but I don’t think he meant that it was a place for political leaders to boldly mock the capacity for reasoning of their own supporters.
9:54 pm: While Senator Cruz speaks about his father’s own immigration story as an exile from Cuba, many of the delegates begin shouting over his speech: “WE WANT TRUMP! WE WANT TRUMP! WE WANT TRUMP!” At some point, the brash Presidential candidate emerges on the convention hall floor and begins shaking hands! Trump similarly overshadowed Senator Cruz just this afternoon, when he flew low over his onetime Presidential rival while he was speaking to his own supporters in Cleveland. A consummate showman, Mr. Trump managed to do this just as Cruz told his supporters that the Republican Party has its Presidential candidate.
9:52 pm: Senator Cruz commends the family of Alton Sterling, a Black street merchant who sold CDs in Baton Rouge who was shot multiple times by Baton Rouge Police after being subdued by a squad of them, for calling on protesters to tone-down the rhetoric and protest activity following a mass-shooting of police officers in that city last weekend: There is hesitant applause from some, an icy silence from most.
Senator Cruz commends a Charleston-area Black church congregation’s survivers for forgiving the White supremacist who was invited into one of their prayer meeting only to subsequently shoot and kill 9 of that body’s members; there is Stonegate-more applause from the audience, but still a noticeable silence.
It’s hard not to reach the conclusion that many of the assembled Republican delegates don’t like their Black countrymen on general principle.
9:50 pm: Senator Cruz calls President Obama’s proposal to allow 100,000 Syrian refugees settle in the United States over 3 years after 1-2 years of background vetting each as “letting ISIS terrorists into the United States as refugees!” There is loud applause from the hall.
9:47 pm: Senator Cruz claims the United Kingdom’s “Leave the European Union” vote in late-June as part of the Conservative populist movement. If by that, he means he wants to claim an English-speaking country’s decision to listen to right-wing politicians who knew they couldn’t deliver what they promised in order to vote to effectively restrict immigration on terms in which no favorable policy outcome was likely as a result, then yes, I do think that “Brexit” is part of the same Conservative-populist movement as Donald Trump and Senator Cruz.
9:36 pm: It really is remarkable: Senator Cruz can’t speak about any subject without taking the first opportunity to say something dishonest to subvert our judgment. In speaking of the tragic last morning of Dallas Police officer Michael Smith, who was killed in the line of duty by a radicalized racially-motivated shooter 2 weeks ago, Senator Cruz pulls off a drive-by smear: “He defended the very protesters who mocked him!” The Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas 2 Thursdays ago was by all accounts a very civil affair, overwhelmingly a protest against police shootings of unarmed or uncharged Black men throughout the rest of the country. Dallas Police officers took pictures with the protesters in a show of solidarity and sympathy; to Senator Cruz, this is an opportunity to impose a partisan binary: police good, protesters disorderly and disrespectful. It’s mostly untrue, and it’s really not the point. It actually obscures the high standard set by the Dallas Police department itself.
9:33 pm: How did Republicans convince Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to deliver a message on Donald Trump’s behalf at all? It’s still clear that Rubio really despises the man; he gives brief taped remarks. He says about as little about Trump as he can in a primetime statement. He argues in favor of a vote for Donald Trump on account of his promises to keep taxes low, to rebuild an underfunded US Armed Forces, and to appoint Conservatives to the Federal Courts. It’s the best ask for Donald Trump that a Republican could make to a thinking Conservative; to much of the staff of the National Review, for a few, it isn’t enough. Senator Rubio’s voice is clearly missing the contagious passion that usually distinguishes him as a great public speaker.
9:29 pm: A personal employee of the Trump family–a Black woman–speaks in often-emotional terms about her experience of Donald Trump and the Trump family. I can’t gainsay her own experience, but it doesn’t change the things Donald Trump has said, the brutish way he has comported himself during the campaign, or his obvious lack of preparedness to be Commander-in-Chiefor to make Federal appointments.
9:20 pm: Governor Walker tells us that “budgets are balanced and responsible” in Wisconsin tody; the University of Wisconsin probably didn’t appreciate the hundreds of millions of dollars shaved from its annual appropriations as an afterthought when the increased revenues Walker predicted would come from his tax cuts completely failed to materialize (See also: Kansas, Louisiana). Walker, who never finished college, averred, “Professors may have to teach more classes.”
Among social Conservatives, Governor Walker is probably a hero for gutting one of the best-esteemed public research universities in the country.
9:10 pm: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the early departure among Republican Presidential hopefuls, assures RNC delegates that the Washington power elite “support Hillary Clinton, because she represents them.” I’d like to draw every reader’s attention to the fact that, while he was breaking Wisconsin teachers’ unions back in 2011, he returned a phone call from a left-wing Madison radio jockey impersonating billionaire Republicam donor David Koch, and engaged in a very private discussion of his political strategy, right down to explaining why he decided against putting agents–provocateurs in the crowds of protesting public employees to stir-up trouble with the police.
But remember, Hillary Clinton represents the connected in Washington, not you.
9:06 pm: Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Shale Oil, is the next to speak. He almost seems to succumb to the disastrous optics of being a rich oil CEO making a stock speech for yet-another rich White man, but he has the good sense to mention that he is a 13th child of poor sharecroppers.
It’s still weird to me that the Republican Party has made a partisan rallying cry out of drilling for oil: Democrats want to do it sometimes, Republicans want to do it all the time and make it a matter of burning passion.
9:05 pm: Pastor Scott was the first Black speaker in prime time at this year’s RNC not to accuse Black political leaders, or Black Lives Matter, or both, of being shams or failing the Black community. He focused on promoting Neoconservative concepts and legitimizing the entirely-unexperienced Donald Trump as a statesman. As he struts off the stage, the crowd shouts “USA! USA! USA!”
9:00 pm: Darrell Scott, Senior Pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, delivers a message of American exexceptionalism. It’s a plausibly-Christian message, until he accuses Democrats of being embarrassed by patriotism and attacks calls for the United States to act as a more-modest world power. It was a much-anticipated paradox of American politics, that once it was done colonizing the Republican Party, the Christian Right became colonized by the Republican Party.
8:55 pm: I tune-in to see an Hispanic RNC speaker use the word “mentirosos”–apparently accusing the Democratic Party of lying, and asking hia fellow Hispanic-Americans to “vote para Donald Trump.” He then calls Secretary of State Hillary Clinton out, saying “You have betrayed the Hispanic community.” Somehow I don’t think this message of lying and betrayal is going to carry through to a racial community whose political introduction to Donald Trump was in the context of the Mexicans among them being abused of bringing crime, and bringing drugs, and of being rapists.