Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ALL FEAR, NO HOPE

I didn't watch all of the Republican convention's first night, but this jibes with what I saw:
There was little from anyone other than Trump’s wife, Melania, that offered a soft portrait of the presumptive nominee and suggested a party ... looking to expand its coalition. Instead, the focus on Clinton was used as a way to bind the GOP’s base.

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani offered testimony on behalf of Trump as a good and decent man maligned by the news media and the Clinton campaign, but the heart of his speech was an emotional charge against Islamist terrorists, an attack on President Obama and a warning that the United States would, under Trump, go after them with a vengeance. When he turned to Clinton, a former secretary of state, he accused her of a “dereliction of duty” that had left the Middle East in greater chaos. “Who would want Hillary Clinton to protect us? I wouldn’t,” he added.

The evening included an emotional speech from Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, who was among those killed during an attack on a diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. “I blame Hillary personally for the death of my son,” she said. Pointing to a sign that said “Hillary for Prison,” she said, “She ought to be in stripes.”

Smith was not the only person to talk about Benghazi or to suggest that the former secretary of state should be in prison, which is something that is commonly heard at Trump rallies and other Republican events. Near the end of the evening, the remaining delegates chanted, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” They were joined by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn from the podium.
Did all this stir up fight-or-flight hormones in the TV audience? Probably. Is that how you win a presidential election? I don't think so.

You win a presidential election by offering hope -- yes, sometimes after stirring up fear, but there needs to be hope at the end. Last night, it wasn't there. The praise for Donald Trump as a man who'll solve our problems was formulaic. All the passion -- in Rudy Giuliani's case, passion verging on operatic hysteria -- went into railing against the horrors of life in America today and the moral depravity of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This wasn't a party "looking to expand its coalition" -- or if it was, it was trying to do it the way you try to win an argument on the Internet, by digging in your heels and making your case in an increasingly uncompromising way, with no effort to concede points or bridge differences. When does that kind of argumentation ever really change anyone's mind?

Now, this doesn't mean that the convention will necessarily turn out to be a failure for the Republicans. Eventually we'll get Trump's speech -- and, regrettably, that may give some swing voters hope. Unlike the speakers last night, Trump is a happy warrior -- he's nasty and negative, but most of the time you can tell he's enjoying himself. And too many Americans think he could be the light at the end of the tunnel, the guy who can solve our problems, because he's rich and he tells us incessantly how great he is at everything.

On the other hand, he's probably going to deliver a Teleprompter address, said to be modeled on Richard Nixon's 1968 convention speech. I don't know why he'd see that as a model -- to have a successful convention in 1968, all you had to do was be better than the Democrats, which was an extremely low bar that year. And even after that, Nixon won the popular vote by less than a percentage point.

I think Trump will give a stiff speech from a Teleprompter; it could be reasonably effective, though he probably won't seem to be enjoying himself. Or he'll wing it, which will be fun for him, but probably not so much fun for non-fans who may never have previously watched one of his long, rambling free-form improvisations.

But we'll see. Meanwhile, all the talk this morning is about Melania Trump's speech, a paragraph of which was plagiarized from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.

I don't think this will have a huge impact in the long run, but it looks incompetent, in a way ordinary people can understand. Everyone has had to write papers for school -- term papers, college papers -- and we all know that plagiarism is wrong, even if we've done it. Plagiarism, it seems to me, is more surprising to outsiders than to professional writers or political pros. If you're a paid speechwriter, how hard is it not to steal? And steal from Michelle Obama, whom you despise and whose husband you think is the Antichrist?

I think at least 45% of Americans still think Donald Trump is competent. This undercuts that impression -- not enough, alas, but it doesn't help him.

16 comments:

Victor said...

I can't watch their convention this year.
Or, rather, I won't.
It's like a national snuff-film. A slow dance with death, violence, hatred, fear, and bigotry.

Ten Bears said...

Ranks right up there with football and the Olympics as something I won't waste what time I have left on. DEM's too.

Feud Turgidson said...

Since conventions are NOT aimed at politics news cobsumersjunkies, not just the junkies like us but those who actually follow political news to some extent, if not daily then every week or so; that they're aimed at bucking up the willing, a kick-start to GOTV - how is last night any sort of disappointment at all?

Do we really think Trump's white dude base was APPALLED that he opened up the bathing suit competition, uh, trophy wife segment with a cheesy rip-off a Wrestlemania silhouette and an unauthorized musical theft from a Brit band song led by a Muslim born Middle Eester bi-sexualm followed by a Penthouse Pet faking a Michelle Obama speech? Like the horse who counted out with its hooves, isn't the really amazing part that she could even speak?

Feud Turgidson said...

I'm wrong about the Muslim part. He was born Gujarati, so Hindu. Like that makes all the difference to the Trumpheads.

Feud Turgidson said...

Okay, STILL wrong: Zoroastrian. If I keep on with these corrections, I expect ot get to Baptist eventually.

Steve M. said...

Are conventions for firing up the base, or are they an introduction of the candidate to people who haven't made up their minds? I think the latter, or both.

Herbert Freeman said...

We (Democrats) are going to win so much. So much. We are going to get tired of winning.

Gerald Parks said...

ORANGE wants to be the new Black!

Ten Bears said...

That, Mr Freeman, is what I am afraid of. Be careful what you wish for.

Feud Turgidson said...

With all that went nuts and sideways last night, what if Nite 1 turns out to be the best nite of this RNC for Trump? I don't think that's even unlikely.

doug moffat said...

It is interesting all the talk about putting Hillary in prison. Given some of the stories being Tweeted by Elizabeth Warren it seems much more likely that Donald will be indicted for something criminal in the next year. Probably on tax evasion or RICO fraud.
How would that work if he was President?

KenRight said...

I will meet you part way and suggest Trump should have given a big "you're fired" public ousting of the speech writer, announced a law suit for defamation of character and suggested the possibility of a Clinton spy present in his staff.

BTW, you were aware Boston Univ completely suppressed MLK's chronic plagiarism through his college career?

Ten Bears said...

And that has what, exactly, to do with what?

Jeff Ryan said...

Sheesh, talk about pessimism! I think you misunderstand two things: One, only the true believers will be swayed by this spectacle, and they were the already-swayed. And, two, everyone else who tuned in merely had their worst impressions confirmed.

After only one day, the widespread impression is that this gathering is a clusterfuck of rarely equaled proportions, with no sign of getting any better.

This may be the first convention, in fact, that winds up hurting the nominee since 1968. Frankly, the constant fatalism expressed here is getting old. Each day you bring us yet another reason to surrender, when the reverse is true.

Steve M. said...

Last night there were some effective speeches -- Christie, Don Jr. The pounding on Hillary, sad to say, jibes with the negative impression too many Americans have of her. I'm predicting that Trump will lead the poll averages a week from now. (Two of the last three polls show this as a 1-point race.)

Jerry Shepherd said...

To bad they didn't hold their convention in Salem. It would be more appropriate for a Hillary witch trial. The retros most likely do not want to reveal they policies they have in store for us; that is destroying Social Security, eliminating Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, Planned Parenthood, the Department of Education, the giveaway of Federal lands, the rape of our National Parks, etc. They are afraid to tell you that they are for the Koch brothers agenda, Citizens United and the NRA.