Wednesday, July 20, 2016

fear and prayer in cleveland - night two...

Last night as I watched round two, I posted on Facebook:

Two thoughts come to mind:
1) Republicans are only united in their hatred of Mrs. Clinton; they do not value or celebrate Mr. Trump, they have a pathological fear of Hilary and so they are building a campaign of hatred not hope.
2) The old rational Republicans are mostly absent from this convention. Say what you will about the Bush clan, they had values you could count on. They were fundamentally kind-hearted even when many of us disagreed with discrete programs. Even John McCain refused to show up for this hate-fest - and that speaks volumes to me. And don't forget Gov. Kasich and Senator Portman.This is the hour for compassion not hatred, a time for listening not shouting in fear or anger, binding one another together in hope rather than polarizing people of good will or putting us to sleep with platitudes. I am very disappointed with the ugly non-vision this convention continues to perpetuate.

This morning I can't help but not that one of the astonishing features of the RNC 2016 for me is the "reality TV" feel to nearly everything that happens:  from the over-the-top rhetoric to the crude and rude personal testimonies, ginned-up Hilary bashing and "the Donald's" back-lit appearance to introduce his wife, this increasingly looks like a Jerry Springer show with guest cameos. Most "speakers" have wisely been constrained to rants under five minutes. Not only does this guarantee there will be time for the main event in prime time each night, but most of us watching from home can only tolerate so much malarkey - so the show's producers try to run a tight ship.

Last night, however, procedural events bogged things down so the first 30 minutes were a total
bust. We did hear audible "booing" from the delegates - twice - when Mitch Mcconnell  took the stage as if he were a WWF character. Then the attorney general of Arkansas did a cornpone schtick about women, guns and Jesus who are ready to kick Hilary Clinton's butt.  The Donald made another appearance last night - this time via video from Trump Towers - assuring us he would be there tomorrow and Thursday. And the Trump children, Tiffany and Donald, Jr., shared comments with us about why they see their dad as a great man. Ms. Trump, thankfully honest and poised on camera, carried herself like a contestant on MTV's "Next." Her oddly flirtatious style of speaking may be generational, but it felt like reality TV contrivance. And Mr. Trump, Jr was out for blood - HRC's blood - so rather than offer personal anecdotes about his father, he took on a televangelist persona in a speech designed to move traditional Republican conservatives.

The most troubling speaker - and the weirdest moment (so far) - came when Dr. Ben Carson suggested that Hilary Rodham Clinton was a devil worshipper. He did this deftly:  Mrs. Clinton admired Saul Alinksy. Alinsky wrote a book called Rules for Radicals. (cue the booing!) On the dedication page to Rules for Radicals (more booing) Alinsky celebrates Lucifer as one who challenged the status quo and won his own kingdom. (audible gasps of fear and loathing) So Clinton is in league with the devil for her own radical kingdom.  Clearly, Dr. Carson was clueless about Alinsky the smartass writing in a 1960s groove. Don't clutter my mind with context and facts: I already have my opinions!

Last night was supposed to be about making America work again - an emphasis on the economic ideas of the Trump campaign - but save Donald Jr's words and a few throw away lines by Paul Ryan about the economy, everything was slanted towards hating Mrs. Clinton in the most personal and vile way. Chris Christie even staged a mock trial with the crowd joining in as vigilantes shouting:  GUILTY. LOCK HER UP!  Another red meat moment for those who have already consumed far too much loathing. 

I can't help but see two reality TV truths taking place at the same time in Cleveland:  first, there is a great effort being given to blood lust and vitriol here; and second, beyond the hate, no body seems to be paying attention to the mechanics. Clearly, Mrs. Trump's handlers were asleep at the wheel when she chose to discard her professionally written speech and replace it with plagiarized clips from Mrs. Obama's speech from 2008. Where were the fact checkers when the RNC printed program published lies about Mrs. Trump's academic career (she didn't graduate, but dropped out after one year.) Who is in charge of keeping the delegates on task? And boring, procedural haggling out of prime time?  Where, in fact, are the people who are supposed to be seated in the upper deck of the auditorium? That place looks mostly empty most of the time.

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