The old elephants in the room for Republicans—racism, sexism, disdain for the poor (to name a few)—are no longer invisible or whispered, and thus no longer fit that idiom’s prime characteristics. Donald Trump has been shouting these prejudices for over a year now, and encouraging his disciples to act them out.
He shouted them yet again in his acceptance speech for the Republican Presidential nomination. Really? This party primary “red meat” is his general election pitch too?
The biggest new elephant in the room is the amateurism of Trump’s campaign. The self-proclaimed master of business couldn’t smooth the event that launches his stretch run to the presidency. And who but Trump would expect a grand coronation? The four days in Cleveland were anything but that. So many pundits are still asking: if you can’t manage your own convention, if you can’t even manage your own campaign, how in hell are you going to manage your entire country?
Trump’s real answer to this question will shock you, even after a year-plus of daily shocks: The Donald isn’t interested in doing any managing; bothersome crap such as domestic and foreign policy would be delegated to his Vice President. More on this in a future column; I need time to digest that madness.
You’ve likely heard a little about Monday’s death of the Never-Trump “movement,” due mainly to weakness in numbers, and you’ve likely heard a lot about Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama. It was an avoidable screw-up—just manage her speech a bit more closely, folks.
That’s easy and cheap—the Google search “plagiarism detection software free” turns up 1.8 million results. The whole incident really meant nothing, claimed FOX News and most conservatives. But switch the roles for a moment and imagine the FOX News coverage of Michelle Obama stealing three words from someone else. I promise you they’ll download that plagiarism software in time to run it on her speech for the 2016 Democratic convention.
Tuesday featured a minor but telling controversy when Alaska’s delegation discovered that their own convention rules forced their votes to be recorded as 100% for Trump. Alaskan Cruz supporters couldn’t even record a meaningless “we didn’t vote for him” protest. That was the only downside to my favorite part of both conventions: the highly entertaining Roll Call of the States.
On Wednesday, Ted Cruz stepped hard on Mike Pence’s nominating speech with a petulant snub at Trump. But Trump’s people KNEW he would not endorse, so what genius scheduled that fiasco for prime time?
Actually, I find myself agreeing with Cruz: the way Trump trashed Cruz’s wife and father during the final primaries—and never apologized after defeating him—well, he can go fuck himself. I’m with you on that one, Ted.
But Cruz is also well-known for doing the wrong thing—while claiming that it’s right. He tried (and failed) to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. And don’t forget that he tried (and failed) to steal Ben Carson’s Iowa Caucus votes. He did succeed at behind-the-scenes palace intrigue with delegate selection throughout the primary season. But he never got close enough electorally to tip the scales anyway. Like everyone else, Cruz grossly underestimated Trump.
Alas, the chaos that would have accompanied a second ballot was not to be.
Pence gave a fairly sane speech accepting the VP nomination, and then had to dodge Trump’s congratulatory kiss. Donald, who do you think he is—your daughter? The headlines next day barely noted anything besides Cruz’ somehow-apocalyptic disrespect.
Some irony there: while Cruz achieved his goal of stealing one last day of headlines from his hated enemy, most of those stories described how Cruz had committed political suicide. I can only wish that it’s true, and he won’t be back chasing the 2020 election.
In the biggest speech of his life on Thursday, Trump did his best impression of a control freak boyfriend, shouting out the country’s often-fictitious (but certainly fatal) flaws for more than an hour while insisting that he was the only one able to fix them. And fix them he would—every single one—very, very quickly!
Short on details but v-e-r-y long on how wonderful those fixes would be, Trump gave me a mental image that crossed Zell Miller excoriating the Democrats in 2004 with the impossible promises in “Big Rock Candy Mountains” (a lake of stew, cigarette trees, streams of alcohol trickling down the rocks, and so on). I found myself wishing for a sci-fi disaster movie that would illustrate America after Trump gets control of the nuclear codes: The Emperor’s New Clothing Strikes Out.
The wikipedia entry for “Big Rock Candy Mountains” lyrics reveals a dark side to the song that applies frighteningly well to Trump’s plans for his presidency. The pre-Depression song was written about a boy being recruited into the hobo life. The final verse from those original lyrics offers an inkling of what Trump would actually do for the country:
The punk rolled up his big blue eyes
And said to the jocker, “Sandy,
I’ve hiked and hiked and wandered too,
But I ain’t seen any candy.
I’ve hiked and hiked till my feet are sore
And I’ll be damned if I hike any more
To be buggered sore like a hobo’s whore
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”
In Trump’s dystopia of 2016, crime is way up—when in fact, it’s lower than it has been in years. He claims that our tax rate is among the highest in the world, when in fact, it’s among the lowest of all developed countries.
In Trump’s America, the police are under siege. In fact, they are dying on the job at a significantly lower rate than they did under Reagan, Bill Clinton and W. To Trump, Black Lives Matter needs to be reminded of its place by this self-proclaimed “law and order candidate.”
Here is truth: no police deaths are acceptable. But the cops are “under siege” only on YouTube. And for good reason. This week’s example: Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man trying to help an autistic group home patient who wandered away, was shot by a Miami cop while lying on his back with both hands in the air. And worse: after being shot, Kinsey was handcuffed and left face down in the street for 20 minutes.
When Kinsey asked the cop why he shot him, the officer’s response was, “I don’t know.” Whoever is training the police should be fired. Shot in the leg and allowed to bleed on the street for 20 minutes, handcuffed? That shit is why Black Lives Matter exists, people. Do NOT tell me that “all lives matter”—the police treatment of black Charles Kinsey tells me—once again—something quite different.
How many of these shootings happen when there is no one to record them on video? That thought makes me ill. And you don’t have to take my word for it; you can ask Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina about Driving While Black (or simply trying to enter his workplace while black).
Just before Trump’s speech, after daughter Ivanka delivered an inspiring portrait of her father, The Donald just couldn’t stop himself, even in front of his largest TV audience yet. I dare you to watch this GIF of Trump groping his own daughter onstage without thinking “Ewww”.
Other embarrassing stuff happened, too. Roger Ailes was shown the door at FOX News! Trump lost a judgement that will cost him over $300,000—for just one of dozens of contractors he has stiffed over the years. But will he actually pay it? Will he be forced to pay? Donald Darko does have a well-polished skill set, but the skills required in a President should never include being a deadbeat on legitimate debts.
So Team Trump muffed the convention. They have a pathetic ground game, if any at all. Donald can’t stop sounding like Fidel Castro when at a microphone. All these factors point to a devastating loss of the G.O.P. in November. But the polls tell a terrifyingly different story…
Trump may have failed at campaigning for over a year now, but look where it’s landed him: he’s tied with Hillary in crucial states Ohio and Florida, according to the highly trustworthy Nate Silver and his fivethirtyeight.com website.
Here’s the bad news why: the Trump campaign understands one thing very well …that this election is a referendum. If the subject is Trump, he loses. If the subject is Hillary, she loses. That’s why the convention was first and foremost a Mean Girls attack on her—with clubs and pitchforks. Lock her up! Lock her up! That sounds more like China or North Korea than here.
Tied in Ohio and Florida! America, WTF are you thinking?
Here’s what Iowa representative Steve King is thinking—and speaking aloud: Western Civilization (white people) have contributed more to civilization than anyone else. Wow. It reminds me of New York artist Jeff Koons, a former stockbroker who knows how to navigate the art world, if not actually earn his own participation in it.
Koons does not make his own art; he pays others to execute his ideas, after which each becomes a Koons artwork. OK, I’ll give him a half-credit for not purchasing slaves to do the work. But I will add a rebuttal to Steve King from boxing promoter Don King (ha-ha, no relation)—referring to slavery’s contribution to America: “We built this motherfucker!”
One of the most amusing—and frustrating—things to watch during a convention is reporters asking campaign operatives tough questions, and always, always getting non-answers no more grounded than the balloons netted to the convention ceiling. It’s their job, I guess, but I’ve never seen those reporters get anything besides intense partisan bullshit from these interviews.
What went right during the convention? No one died, not a protester, not a convention goer, because of open carry. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be wrong in that prediction.
Stephen Colbert did his best to add some humor to an otherwise grim affair, so I’ll leave you with that…