Thoughts on the RNC Convention, #1
There was a lot of McGurnite sentiment in evidence in Cleveland last night. But there was something else in evidence as well, a strong positive current of support for Trump. The current has several tributaries:
- The theme of last night's jamboree was "Make America Safe Again." (Coming up: "Make America Work Again," "Make America First Again," "Make America One Again.") Given the horrific events of the last few weeks -- Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge (to say nothing of what happened in Nice and, just yesterday, Germany), security was on everyone's mind. Many of the speakers last night, from Milwaukee's Sheriff David Clarke and "Lone Survivor" Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell to Rep. Michael McCaul, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rudy Giuliani underscored the many ways Barack Obama has made America less safe by his addiction to political correctness. Again and again, speakers insisted on calling things by their real names. What happened in San Bernardino, in Paris, in Orlando, in Nice was radical Islamic terrorism, not the assaults of various "violent extremists." The slogan "Black Lives Matter" is a toxic formulation whose racist implications are evident in the corollary denial of the alternative "All Lives Matter" (including, as Sheriff Clarke put it, "Blue Lives Matter"). That refreshing rejection of cant had an energizing effect on the assembled multitudes. In one of the high points of the evening, Darryl Glenn, a black Senatorial candidate in Colorado, quipped, “Someone with a nice tan needs to say this: All Lives Matter.” Yes.
- Donald Trump himself contributed to the atmosphere when, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, he weighed in on the subject of Black Lives Matter. "It's a problem, it's a very big problem," he said. What, O'Reilly asked, would he do about it as president? Would he seek to limit the free speech of the protestors? Here Trump said something that will enrage the Left and endear him to his core supporters. He was all for free speech "up to a point." What point? When you have protestors chanting "kill the police" and then find that police are, in fact, killed. Are not the Black Lives Matter radicals inciting their followers to violence? We can leave that to the constitutional lawyers to adjudicate. Meanwhile, Trump's supporters are cheering.
- You don't often hear the word "Warrior" used in a positive way these days. It cropped up early and often in last night's presentations. Marcus Luttrell invoked it, as did Tom Cotton. It underscored a fact that helps to explain Donald Trump's popularity. His campaign is not a testosterone-free zone. As former Texas Governor Rick Perry put it, we should not only care for but honor our veterans. You get the sense that the Left is faintly embarrassed by the warriors who keep America safe. Which is probably why ailing veterans are left to malinger in the inefficient bureaucratic hell that is Obama's Veterans Administration. Donald Trump celebrates the military and has repeatedly said he would do more to care for veterans. The crowd in Cleveland liked that.
- The evening's denouement was undoubtedly the speech by Melania Trump, the striking Slovenia-born model who is Donald's third wife and mother of his youngest son. Donald gave a brief introduction, and his melodramatic entrance out of an illuminated mist was hokey at best. But his introduction was straightforward and affectionate, and Melania's speech was a model of solicitude and solidarity. Yes, yes, I know that whoever wrote the speech seems to have cribbed a few sentences from Michelle Obama's similar oration from 2008. (I also know that Barack Obama's speech writers apparently cribbed from a speech by Deval Patrick.) But that did not, I think, detract from the effectiveness of her performance, which did a lot to humanize Donald Trump and put a domestic face behind his often crude rhetoric.
Bottom line? The first day of the 2016 Republican National Convention was a net positive for Donald Trump, something the internet bookies have taken on board. They still have Hillary ahead in the odds, but the performance of Trump's surrogates last night has the world chattering that a "Brexit-style" upset is not out of the question.