I’m getting an early start of it this evening so as not to miss any of tonight’s distinguished speakers…Apparently, I simply have an appetite for the absurd and the grotesque.
11:30 pm: Hey, Governor Pence finally joined the candidate onstage.
11:25 pm: Trump promises to roll back the “Johnson Amendment, freeing churches to advocate directly in politics without losing their tax-exempt status. That is a pretty big offer of a special-interest giveback to the Christian Right, which seems to be doing alright in both the funding and the political advocacy departments.
11:24 pm: Donald Trump burnishes his endorsement by the NRA, asserting that he “will defend your right to keep your family safe.” Actually, both parties defend the 2nd Amendment; Republicans just think that it means that no gun purchasing or carrying regulations whatsoever are ever constitutional or sound, and Democrats don’t think that.
11:14 pm: Trump promises to challenge China’s pegging of the yuan to a low value against the US dollar; he calls China “the greatest currency manipulator of them all!” Currency “manipulation” is common; states have central banks that allow them to strategically manage their money supplies. I think it’s unusual, though, for a major-party Presidential candidate to threaten our country’s largest trading partner with sanctions–not least when that country’s government is also our largest creditor.
11:12 pm: Donald Trump vows to punish corporations for moving jobs overseas. What about corporations that automate jobs? What about corporations that downsize positions due to reduced revenue? What is the justifying principle behind this promise, outside of addressing the fears of class disenfranchisement understandably felt by Republican Primary voters?
11:04 pm: Trump, just to review, ticks-off part of the list of Americans killed one way or another by an illegal immigrant. Literally since Day 1, this Republican National Convention has sought to plant in attendees’ and viewers’ minds the idea that illegal immigrants are a bunch of murderers. The contrast to a warm and totally-positive introduction by Ivanka makes this speech oddly exactly the same in context as Trump’s now-notorious declaration of candidacy over a year ago.
10:55 pm: Trump looks directly into the camera and notes that the Islamist-inspired Pulse nightclub shooter in Orlando targeted “the LGBTQ community–no good.” He seems to be defying Conservatives whom are reticent to acknowledge an anti-gay hate crime as a matter of partisan principle. This is part of his attempt at outreach to a wider national electoral audience; seeing as the crude hostility is still in place, I’m not too worried that Trump can deftly pivot.
10:50 pm: Trump notes the disturbing police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, landing on “I am the law and order candidate.”
Trump says he wants to make America safe again for young people in Baltimore and Chicago as well. This is the new bait-and-switch of the Republican Party: Black people will be better-off if there is less crime in their communities, and the police prevent crimes and bring justice to criminals, so Black people should shut up about police brutality or lethal police mistakes and sit down. And yes, this is an old bait-and-switch; it just wasn’t obvious to the rest of us before.
10:46 pm: Donald Trump assures us that only he can fix our corrupt political system.
10:42 pm: A Code Pink protesterhad begun chanting, but she was easily drowned-out by repeated chants of “USA! USA! USA! USA!” Officers of the Cleveland Police ask her to leave the Convention hall with them; she resists slightly, but is eventually led out of the room. “How great are the Cleveland Police, huh?” the candidate asks. I as much as anyone are grateful for the presence of the police at this Convention; Donald Trump doesn’t have to auction-off legal compensation to the supporter who starts beating-down on protesters
10:38 pm: “Americanism not globalism” will be our credo. The Republican Party has been rechristened as the White nationalist party of America, our very own Front Nationale.
10:32 pm: Mention of Hillary Clinton; the crowd launches into a new round of the chant “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” Trump the rich and confortable huckster lets them get it out of their system.
10:28 pm: Donald Trump launches into another story of an illegal immigrant killing someone, in order to showcase his belief that illegal immigrants pose a net danger to American society: a man who was an illegal immigrant murdered a recent college graduate who had a 4.0 GPA. “Just another life sacrificed (by the Obama Administration on the altar of open borders.” This really is a monotonous display of xenophobic fear-mongering…and I’m starting to repeat myself.
10:25 pm: Donald Trump raises some alarming statistics about increases in homicides: homicide in our largest cities increased 17% over the past year; the homicide rate has increased about 50% in Washington, DC; the homicide rate has increased over 60% in Baltimore, Maryland. Has Donald Trump implied that President Obama controls America’s many local police forces from Washington? That’s not how police or policymaking in America work, Donald.
10:20 pm: Donald Trump immediately brushes aside the substance of her daughter’s introductory speech; he wants to talk about terrorism. “We can’t afford to be so politically-correct anymore!” It’s a very hard argument to make, that being more broad-brush in how we seek to label terrorists and terrorist supporters and sympathizers will make us safer or even constitutes a strategy for counterterrorism.
10:18 pm: As Ivanka Trump introduces her father, I am relieved to hear that Donald Trump is momentarily no longer misusing Queen, a band committed to peace and understanding, for his entrances and exits. But a friend of mine is deeply agitated: “NO…NO. NO. NO. NO. Trump is using the music from Air Force One. No, **** you.”
“Friends, I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the Presidency of the United States.” Now, as an ironist, I think I am more-prepared for this absurdity than most of you.
10:12 pm: Ivanka argues that a lack of maternity leave is the great driver of unequal pay for women, and says that her father proposes paid maternity leave as a new labor requirement. That’s a welcome change coming from a Republican, considering that the United States is on an incredibly short list of countries that don’t provide for paid maternity leave. This doesn’t change the fact that the prospect of a Trump Presidency is frightening to me, or that Trump won’t fight for this proposal in the face of a miserly Republican Congress.
10:05 pm: Ivanka tells the crowd that Donald Trump taught all of his children character–to never give up, to have compassion for the downtrodden. She recounts her father pulling stories out of the newspaper about people who are in trouble, so he could think about it later. I must say, Donald Trump’s children are such an incongruity even compared with most of the Convention-speakers. So much of the speech projected here has been xenophobic and self-satisfied, and unconcerned about who knows it. Where do his children, who seem grounded and who constantly attest to his character, fit in? I don’t think we’ve been too harsh on Trump; it’s a fact that he called Mexican immigrants in general drug smugglers, criminals, and rapists–“and some, I imagine, are good people”–and that he attributed Megyn Kelly’s tough questions for him in a debate to her period–with imagery. But here are his children, speaking with such warmth and ease, doing more than anyone else to bail him out from his own extraordinary shortcomings as a person.
10:03 pm: “…In his own way, and through sheer force of will, (my father) has sacrificed greatly to run for President, besting a team of 16 talented rivals…” Ivanka Trump sure loves mythology.
9:54 pm: “Hi, I’m John Voight. I want to tell you about my friend Donald Trump…”
Stop doing this, John Voight! You starred in Deliverance! You should know that tooth, fang, and claw is not the way we were meant to live!
9:38 pm: Tom Barrack, founder of the super-PAC Rebuild America Now, gives a weirdly-gendered speech for a party that doesn’t believe in identity politics. His opening line after loud applause: “I feel like the anchovie in Ivanka’s Caesar salad! I know you’re salivating for that; that’s coming…” I don’t entirely understand what he meant by that, but I shudder to speculate further.
Then Mr. Barrack came up with an unfortunate metaphor: “Donald is like–he’s like an animal in the jungle. He says, ‘A lion gets up in the morning, and he knows that he has to run faster than the fastest gazelle. And the gazelle, she knows that she has to run faster than the fastest lion’…” Are apex predators male and vulnerable herd animals female in this man’s mind?
9:24 pm: Peter Thiel, who funded a lawsuit that brought down Gawker as revenge for that website outing him as a gay man, mocks the Obama Administration: “When I was a boy, the great debate was once how we would beat the Soviet Union. We won. Today, there are those who will tell us the great debate is over what bathroom we can use…” It’s frustrating to see Republicans “get themselves into the room,” them deride anyone else who feels marginalized because of an identity they didn’t “choose” for themselves. Thiel soon tells us, “I am proud to be gay,” but that wasn’t the case when Gawker exposed his sexual orientation. He avers, “I don’t agree with everything in my party’s platform,” and then refuses to countenance “divisive culture wars.” Which party marshalled the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition against women, gays, and “secularists”? Thiel obviously wants to be accepted in this crowd of bigots; he succeeds, because rigorous application of principle is not a priority at the Republican National Convention. It’s just a deeply-unflattering picture to get of the angel investor behind Facebook that he wants to be part of a party dedicated to xenophobia and contempt for disenfranchisement.
9:10 pm: Preibus tells us that “Hillary Clinton has mastered the politics of personal gain.” Secretary Clinton has actually served in elected office before; Donald Trump is a businessman who actually bragged during the Republican Presidential Primary Debates about financing politicians’ campaigns so that they would take his calls. Last night, one of Donald Trump’s sons told us that his father wanted to run for President because he considered it a challenge; that, to me, was chillingly-shallow. Now we are told to mistrust Secretary Clinton as a self-seeking politician.
9:08 pm: Republicans again chant “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” while RNC Chairman Preibus mentions Hillary Clinton’s emails. This has already been the subject of House investigation, which has cleared the former Secretary of State. Get ready for the pageant of the next House investigation. “Lock her up!” is the true chant of this year’s RNC.
9:02 pm: RNC Chairman Reince Preibus comes out to thank Cleveland for hosting their Convention, too thunderous applause.
He tells us that the Democratic Party’s “dirty secret is that they are the party of the same old ideas.” He tells us that “the Republican Party has the new ideas, we are the party of the grassroots that listens to the people!” Preibus seems to have confused “ideas which have been kept in the shadows because they are deplorable–racism, rank misogyny, fight-or-flightforeign policy isolationism–for “new” ideas.
8:43 pm: “The person who agrees with you 80% of the time is an ally,” Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin explains to Convention delegates. One of the things that’s so strange about the Republican Presidential Primary cycle just past is that Republicans have just spent the entire Obama Presidency ousting each other in legislative primaries for ideological deviations that almost qualify for theology, and now the ideologically-obtuse and philosophically unschooled Donald J. Trump just bested a deep bench of ideologically-adroit Republican Presidential hopefuls. Has the Tea Party movement actually drawn most of its fuel from pure tribalism? It’s hard to believe that anyone could have supported Donald Trump in the Republican Primaries primarily out of a concern with limited government, yet here he is, just having resoundingly won a Republican Primary cycle with higher turnout than any other in history.
8:35 pm: Congresswoman Blackburn asserts against group grievance without making an argument that racial minorities, women, gays, the poor, the transgender and others don’t face grave personal challenges and abuse–often as individuals–or that they don’t live the issues that one Republican after another have just told them to shut-up about.
8:30 pm: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a longtime partisan fuxture on cable nightly news shows, tells us that the American people are tired of divisive politics. This should be good.
She also says, “The American people want someone to take the reins and bring us all together.” How are we not supposed to interpret that as a call for an authoritarian deliverer?
In the interest of full disclosure: Marsha Blackburn was an early advocate for Donald Trump’s candidacy.
8:21 pm: Donald Trump defied the odds and overcame a 1% chance of being the Republican Presidential nominee, Mr. Mealer tells the crowd with his winning boyish smile. This reminds me a little of Trump’s son calling him “a boy from Queens,” as if the point of the message is to subvert our judgement intro accepting that Donald Trump is a whiz with the common touch who possesses vision.
What Donald Trump actually is is a testament to how if you inherited $200 million decades ago, you can accomplish anything, even if you don’t exhibit ability, accountability, or effort.
8:19 pm: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker.
8:09 pm: Mark Burns’ speech consists entirely of inveighing against actually addressing issues of racial inequity. My visiting friend points-out the condescension of reasoning that the Black Lives Matter movement gets its animus primarily from the poverty of Black communities in America, for which the presumed answer is more Capitalism.
8:04 pm: I’m just waiting for it–There it is, the Black minister at the RNC just said that racial issues are divisive and should be ignored. There they go again.
Now he shouted at the top of his lungs, “ALL LIVES MATTER!” Convention-goers seem quite happy with a status quo in which routine police shootings of unarmed and uncharged Black men don’t result in disciplinary action.
7:56 pm: Falwell tells us that, towards the end of his life, his father recounted that he dreamed that Chelsea Clinton interviewed him about the 3 greatest threats facing America. In response, he said “Osama, Obama, and your mama.”
After September 11th, Jerry Falwell told us that God allowed the terrorist attack that killed 3,000 Americans to happen because of gays, Feminists, and Liberals and their power here. In other words, Falwell and bin Laden both saw Providence in that day of mass murder; then-Illinois Senator Obama and then-Senator Clinton, like most of us, saw only the mass murder.
7:52 pm: Jerry Falwell just compared Donald Trump to the Founding Fathers! His reasoning is that the Founding Fathers weren’t professionalpoliticians, and they were able to create our durable democratic republic. It’s worth noting that professional politicians in Revolutionary times were often appointments of King George III.
7:50 pm: Jerry Falwell Jr. strolls out to address the Convention. The son of the founder of the Moral Majority sounds drunk, a friend of mine remarks.
Hold the phone: Jerry Falwell Jr. just said that “We have never seen a more loving and genuine family” than Donald Trump’s. That is a troubling statement from a man who professes to minister to many families ostensibly more-Christian in both religion and ethics than the Trumps.
7:35 pm: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council gives a relatively sedate speech: Christianity is under assault in America.
Perkins stresses the “pragmatic” accommodation that many Conservatives either disturbed by Donald Trump or skeptical of his ideological bona fides: A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for the appointment of Conservative Federal jurists who will protect religious freedom, as they define it. Think of the courts, they say.
7:19 pm: “Ladies and gentlemen, delegates and alternates, please take your seats.” The assembled delegates quietly settle into their seats; none of the surliness and raucousness that overtakes the Convention late at night. I think the angry hostility and general rowdiness that takes over later in the evening is partly an effect of the weariness of the delegates. But I suppose they feel committed to take ownership of it after the fact…