First Night of GOP Convention Mirrors Trump’s Campaign

Let’s be honest. Modern day political conventions are designed to be a show. Last night’s opening act was a showcase for everything we’ve come to know about Donald Trump.

The fact-checkers are going to have a field day with the actual words that were spoken. On the night’s theme about Benghazi, you can check out just a couple of the lies here and here. But the communication was more focused on emotion than it was information. Most of the evening was designed to make viewers afraid…and angry. Here is a great summary:

Whether it is because of immigrants crossing the border, “radical Islamist terrorists,” or garden variety criminals, the Republican Party wants you to know that you are not safe. No one did a better job of trying to scare us than Rudy Giuliani. Josh Marshal described it well.

Ever since the late and great Molly Ivins quipped that she thought Pat Buchanan’s speech at the 1992 GOP convention sounded better in the original German it’s been sort of a parlor trick to compare a ‘hot’ Republican speech to one from this or that fascist dictator. But this speech was really febrile and unhinged. Setting aside the content, consider the wild hand gestures, frequent screaming, the agitated and febrile manner. It was disturbing but also brought together all the themes of violence, death, betrayal and rage that shaped the evening.

Of course, along the way there were speeches from b-list actors who are sure Barack Obama is a Muslim from the Middle East and one who refuses to apologize for calling Hillary Clinton the c-word. There was also the sheriff who wrote a column yesterday titled: “This is a war, and Black Lives Matter is the enemy.” Subtle, huh? But the fever finally broke when The Donald took the stage to introduce his wife. Yes…this really happened.

That’s the visual and the music was Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” If we ever needed a moment to demonstrate what “small hands syndrome” does to a man – there you have it. Only Donald Trump could turn politics into just another edition of Wrestlemania.

Most of the drama this morning has focused on Melania Trump’s speech. Initially the reviews were pretty good. But then, there were parts that sounded familiar.

This morning Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign manager, said Melania used “common words” and then said this:

I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy. This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.

First of all, suggesting that the Trump campaign wouldn’t do something crazy isn’t a great defense. Over the last few months they have “been there…done that” too many times. But then he does the “Hillary attacks women who threaten her” number. In other words: it’s time to change the subject with a smear on the other gal.

While most of us probably gave up on the idea of any real news coming out of political conventions a long time ago, there are themes that emerge. Last night’s was one of lies, anger, fear and deception. In other words, it pretty well mirrored Donald Trump’s candidacy so far.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.