Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Unconventional Convention

The rise of Don the Con Man Trump and his warped ideas have been written about by so many that I’ve hesitated to add my two cents, but it might be worth trying to explain what’s going on at the Republican Convention for anyone who hasn’t been paying much attention.

Con Don won the Republican nomination because the Republican base abandoned their party leadership and voted for an outsider who ran against the establishment. He did that not so much by promoting outsider policies as by claiming that all politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are stupid and only he is smart enough to “Make America Great Again. The primary message he is running on, is be afraid of 

  • Muslims, because they might be or might become terrorists, 
  • Immigrants, because they are taking your (white men's) jobs, raping your wives, murdering your families, and taking advantage of free stuff,
  • African Americans, just because. He won't come out and say anything direct, but uses "dog whistles" like "Law and Order" which Nixon and others always used to mean put blacks in jail and get control of protest movements and rioting through harsher policing rather than addressing issues,
  • Other countries, which are taking advantage of us in trade agreements, by getting our protection without paying adequately for it, or by being enemies or terrorists. 

Many establishment Republicans abandoned him for several reasons. Some because they believe his strategy is a losing one (Paul Ryan, for instance, wants a more inclusive party); some don't trust him on the economic issues and are afraid he will make agreements with Democrats to raise taxes or bolster social programs; and some few actually have scruples and think he is too dangerous to be president.

Trump is ignorant of the nuts and bolts of government and doesn't know much about conventions--he wanted to put on a few days of entertainment that would get great ratings, since he views elections as popularity contests, but he couldn't get any A-list entertainers to cooperate. And the few grownups and politically astute people he is listening to (Paul Manafort, his campaign manager, family members, and maybe Republican Party Chairman Reince Preibus) must have let him know there had to be some regular speeches and other convention conventions....but really he's only interested in his own and his family’s appearances.

Day 1 was pretty interesting, but only because there was a bit of parliamentary wrangling from the Never Trump delegates that delayed the first speeches of the evening. Then there was the David Copperfield smoke and mirrors entrance by the Don himself (gave me a kind of Hunger Games vibe) to introduce his wife, the very beautiful former model, Melania. She gave a good speech, but it turned out she or a speechwriter had lifted a paragraph or so from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention. Once it was detected, it went viral with Twitter, Facebook, and every news channel opening with first Michelle, then Melanie delivering their lines which were almost exactly alike, and, contrary to the claims made by Trump surrogates, not common language, “My word is my bond….” When was the last time you heard that? Yeah, right, 8 years ago. 

Instead of figuring out how it happened and owning up, they went for a couple days trying to deny, deny, deny, and even accused Hillary of creating the issue because, “…when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.” 

They are so disinclined to backtrack or own up to mistakes because it’s a trait that comes from the top, “You make a mistake, you go forward. And, you know, you can correct the mistake but to look back and say: 'Gee whiz, I wish I didn't do this or that,' I don't think that's good.” I shouldn’t have to point out that there is no consideration here for the feelings of the person who is the victim of the mistake.

On day two, only the chanting of “Lock Her Up” as Chris Christie recited a litany of so-called indictments on Hillary’s judgement and character could break through the endless discussion on cable news of how off the rails the Trump campaign seemed to be (even Fox--I checked).

On day three, finally, a long time Trump employee, a ghostwriter, fessed up. But because it took so long, now no doubt they’ll have to deal with the fall out of when they found out, who knew, and when did they know. 

Why does it matter? That’s a valid question. Melania is not running for anything. It matters, as many have said, because it is an indication of what a Trump presidency would be like—stonewalling, accusatory, denying, and finally trotting forward someone to take the blame.

Thus far there has been little mention of policy during the convention. Trump doesn’t believe Americans care, and he may be right. His policy prescriptions, as I’m sure you know, are limited to a few broad strokes: build a wall on the border of Mexico, deport millions of immigrants, stop immigration of Muslims or anyone from “countries where there are terrorists.” Day 2 was supposed to be about putting America back to work, but none of the speakers talked about that except perhaps Senator Capito of WV who subscribes to the far-fetched promise that Trump would put coal miners back to work. 

The fact is that Con Man Don is not a politician, and he has no respect for politicians who make decisions based on their ideology or strategy or the advice of experts. He believes only in himself, his superior mind and his instincts—his gut. So far, his gut and his superior mind are not putting on a very successful convention.