The potential impact on Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton as they formally enter the general election is asymmetrical.Where to start with this?
In Cleveland, Mr. Trump -- who will be confronted by left-wing demonstrators, not fellow Republicans -- could potentially benefit from scenes of mayhem that allow him to call for law and order and project strength, as he did recently when opponents punched his supporters and burned their “Make America Great Again” hats in California. Street chaos, if it occurs, could overshadow disunion in the convention hall as an increasing array of party leaders nervously break ranks with Mr. Trump.
Democratic leaders are worried about emerging from their convention with an unmollified “Bernie or Bust” contingent whose protests could provide jarring split-screen images as the party seeks to rally around Mrs. Clinton.
First of all, I don't know why Gabriel assumes that all the unrest at the Republican convention will come from the left. A move to stop Trump at the convention seems to be gaining steam again, and let's not forget that Roger Stone was promising in a while back to lead "Stop the Steal" demonstrations if the convention threatened to be anything other than a Trump coronation. Stone also warned that he and his allies would reveal the hotel room numbers of stop-Trump delegates if Trump's nomination was in doubt.
But even if Gabriel is correct and all the unrest comes from the left, why would that "overshadow disunion in the convention hall"? That's not what happened to the Democrats in 1968. That year, America saw chaos outside the conventional hall and chaos inside, and the negative effect on perceptions of the Democrats was additive; the two didn't cancel each other out.
But what's most obnoxious about what Gabriel writes is the assertion that Trump could use demonstrations to "project strength" -- an option clearly not available to Hillary Clinton, in Gabriel's eyes.
I know that we all believe Republicans benefit from political unrest -- that's been the way of things at least since Nixon -- but it ought to be clear by now that Trump simply doesn't have it in him to shift into righteously-indignant-stern-father mode. He's not Nixon, he's not Reagan, he's not Giuliani. He's too adolescent (or maybe pre-adolescent). When there's unrest in his presence, he expresses glee -- he doesn't come off as Dad grabbing his belt so he can whup the perpetrators.
Remember, he didn't get a poll bounce from the Orlando massacre -- which isn't exactly comparable, but it did give him the opportunity to come off as the vengeful embodiment of morality. He just doesn't, except to his fans -- to the rest of America, he comes off as a giddy, insubordinate child. He seems to be part of the chaos, not the stern presence who's going to restore order.
Trump doesn't come off as a rule-enforcing Republican Dad. We need to stop assuming that old frame fits him.