Sunday, August 23, 2020


I don't know if the Republicans are trying to gaslight us or themselves as they plan their convention:
Convention organizers say the president and his surrogate speakers will showcase optimism and inspire hope in a time of worldwide despair, with programming planned around themes of “promise,” “opportunity” and “greatness” for the United States in a second Trump term.

“The big contrast you’ll see between the Democrats’ doom-and-gloom, Donald Trump-obsessed convention will be a convention focused on real people, their stories, how the policies of the Trump administration have lifted their lives, and then an aspirational vision toward the next four years,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in an interview Saturday.
A couple of days ago, they sent Trump out to deliver this message:
“Over the last week, the Democrats held the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history,” President Trump said in remarks to members of a conservative group in Arlington, Va. He accused Democrats of “attacking America as racist and a horrible country that must be redeemed.”
Trump went on to say:
"They want to punish America and its citizens instead of holding them high," the president said. "Where Joe Biden sees American darkness, I see American greatness."

"No party can lead American that spends so much time tearing down America," Trump said.
Is that the impression America got from the Democratic convention? Is it even the impression Republicans got? It will be now -- Trump's pronouncements are gospel to GOP voters. But I think they've settled on this line because new campaign head Bill Stepien is trying to run the campaign in a traditional way, and you're supposed to settle on some coordinated line of attack after the other guys' convention. So this is it.

Part of the problem is that Trump can't sustain a positive, optimistic tone and doesn't want to. In that Friday speech, he went on to say:
But, the biggest part of last night's speech was what Joe Biden didn't talk about. He didn't talk about law enforcement. He didn't talk about bringing safety to Democrat run cities that are totally out of control and they have no clue.

China was never mentioned in any way, shape, or form. China will own our country if he gets elected. They will own our country and we're not going to let that happen.
That sounds to me like gloom and doom.

But prior to that, Trump said:
Look at what we've accomplished, and now we're doing it again.

It was the most successful period of time in the history of our country from every standard. Look what we've accomplished and now this plague comes in and look at the way they talk. But, look at what's happening and look at how we're shooting up. We call it a super V. It's no longer a V. It's a super V and they didn't think that could happen and they're probably not happy about it.

... We've seen heroic doctors and nurses racing into action to save lives. We've seen first responders helping strangers in need. We've seen the passage of historic legislation to save 50 million American jobs.

We've mobilized American industry like never before. We've built military hospitals from scratch to produce lifesaving therapies and we're on track to develop the most incredible from a standpoint of time, record time, vaccines. We have vaccines. You'll be reading about them very soon, way, way ahead of schedule, years ahead of schedule. This would have been where we are now phase three trials, clinical trials. You wouldn't have been there in two or three years if you went back to another administration.
There are traditional Republican voters who are turning away from Trump -- not a lot of them, but enough to give Joe Biden a bigger lead than Hillary Clinton had four years ago at this time. Will they respond to this message from the party they normally vote for?

Some might. Or this might ring very false at a time when 70% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

On the other hand, CNN says we should expect mostly gloom.
Early drafts of his nomination acceptance speech closely resemble two previous addresses that delved heavily in the divisive culture wars that Trump has aggressively stoked: his first convention speech in 2016, where he declared "I alone can fix" the country's ailments, and his July 4 address at Mount Rushmore, which seized upon recent racial strife to hammer a "law and order" message.
If you like Trump, well, you're going to get a lot of him during this convention: "Mr. Trump is expected to speak every night in the 10 p.m. hour," The New York Times reports. I think that's great for Democrats because most of America doesn't like Trump. The more we see of him, the worse he looks.

And the parts of the convention that won't involve Trump will be what Trump wants to watch, even though his insistence on micromanaging the convention (which had to be rebuilt from scratch at the last minute after plans for a normal convention fell through) are making the logistics more difficult.
There are many reasons for seeming chaos, officials said, including Trump's insistence on approving most decisions....

Trump freely offers advice on what he wants to see in the convention, officials said. Previous presidents have taken an interest in convention planning, but Trump's role is unique given his background in television. The star of a TV reality show before entering politics, Trump often envisions events in terms of how they will look on television.

"When it comes to what a television shot looks like, the president is very engaged,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP political strategist. “He cares about what the lighting looks like. What are the backgrounds? Who are the other people who are going to be in the shot? He is very detail oriented on what viewers are going to be seeing and how it is going to be portrayed on a daily basis.”
You want to know what Trump does all day while America suffers through health, economic, and racial justice crises? This is what he does all day:
Calling aides at all hours from Air Force One or the White House residence, Trump has conveyed last-minute ideas on venues or gimmicks and demanded progress reports on the speakers he wants during his nominating extravaganza....
Can the convention lead to a Trump comeback? Adam Nagourney of The New York Times thinks it's possible. He recalls how George H.W. Bush started his 1988 comeback at the Republican convention, using a speech that combined light and darkness:
“He was behind for a couple of reasons,” said Janet Mullins Grissom, who was Mr. Bush’s deputy national political director. “He spent eight years as vice president and the solid Reaganites were always suspicious of Bush 41 for not being conservative enough. And he endured a lot of lousy press coverage that was a caricature of him.”

“The turning point was the convention,” Ms. Grissom said. “That was our reintroduction of Bush and our first real opportunity to define him without filters. People saw him through the convention, the convention speech. ‘No new taxes.’ ‘Kinder, gentler.’”

The glowing reintroduction of Mr. Bush set the table for the attack. The campaign’s plan to bring down Mr. Dukakis was unambiguously telegraphed in Mr. Bush’s acceptance speech, mixed in with all the talk about a “kinder, gentler nation.” Mr. Bush listed all those positions Mr. Dukakis had taken that his aides had reviewed at the hotel room in Washington.

“Should public-school teachers be required to lead our children in the Pledge of Allegiance?” Mr. Bush said, in just one example, as he informed his audience that the governor had vetoed a bill that contained exactly that requirement. “My opponent says no — but I say yes.”
But people didn't remember the attacks in that speech. They remembered "I want a kinder, gentler nation." They remembered the patriotic sentimentality Peggy Noonan infused into the speech.
I am guided by certain traditions. One is that there is a God and He is good, and his love, while free, has a self imposed cost: We must be good to one another.

I believe in another tradition that is, by now, embedded in the national soul. It is that learning is good in and of itself. The mothers of the Jewish ghettos of the east would pour honey on a book so the children would learn that learning is sweet. And the parents who settled hungry Kansas would take their children in from the fields when a teacher came. That is our history.

And there is another tradition. And that is the idea of community....

For we are a nation of communities, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique.

This is America: the Knights of Columbus, the Grange, Hadassah, the Disabled American Veterans, the Order of Ahepa, the Business and Professional Women of America, the union hall, the Bible study group, LULAC, "Holy Name" - a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

Does government have a place? Yes. Government is part of the nation of communities - not the whole, just a part.

I do not hate government. A government that remembers that the people are its master is a good and needed thing.
They remembered the way Noonan's words depicted Bush as a man of humility.
My parents were prosperous; their children were lucky. But there were lessons we had to learn about life. John Kennedy discovered poverty when he campaigned in West Virginia; there were children there who had no milk. Young Teddy Roosevelt met the new America when he roamed the immigrant streets of New York. And I learned a few things about life in a place called Texas.

We moved to west Texas 40 years ago. The war was over, and we wanted to get out and make it on our own. Those were exciting days. Lived in a little shotgun house, one room for the three of us. Worked in the oil business, started my own.

In time we had six children. Moved from the shotgun to a duplex apartment to a house. Lived the dream - high school football on Friday night, Little League, neighborhood barbecue.

People don't see their experience as symbolic of an era - but of course we were. So was everyone else who was taking a chance and pushing into unknown territory with kids and a dog and a car. But the big thing I learned is the satisfaction of creating jobs, which meant creating opportunity, which meant happy families, who in turn could do more to help others and enhance their own lives. I learned that the good done by a single good job can be felt in ways you can't imagine.

I may not be the most eloquent, but I learned early that eloquence won't draw oil from the ground. I may sometimes be a little awkward, but there's nothing self-conscious in my love of country. I am a quiet man - but I hear the quiet people others don't. The ones who raise the family, pay the taxes, meet the mortgage. I hear them and I am moved, and their concerns are mine.
There are those who cling to the hope that someday we'll hear words like this from Trump. We heard them from Joe Biden on Thursday. But Trump couldn't do it. He'd reject a speech of this kind, even if it also had its share of red meat. He'd say it would make him look weak. But it would make him look presidential.

No comments: