Republican Convention: I Watched the Whole Damn Thing!*

I watched the convention with befuddlement. They’re saying the current Trump-led nirvana will be destroyed by socialist-commie, godless anarchist-loving Democrats if they win. Trump lives in Donnie World, which seems to be shared with Fox World, but bares only a passing resemblance to reality. That was expected. I’m not too surprised the Trump family lives in, or at least next door, to Trump World, although the rapid, yelling hate speeches of Junior and his girlfriend were a bit jarring. I’m most surprised by the speeches of Republicans who had previously demonstrated some level of competence and, I thought, principles. That view fell by the wayside for Nicki Haley and Tim Scott on Monday. Pompeo remains in the running for worst Secretary of State, including his Tuesday night talk. Ivanka was the most articulate Trump, but still firmly in Trump World.

Mike Pence accepted the VP nomination and mainly made a case for conservative values; not unexpected was an exaggerated appraisal of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, the economy and so on. More or less fair game. He is a good speaker and calm (an exception this week). It was rather pedestrian in the sense of repeating all the stereotypes. Then came the outright lies and falsehoods: You won’t be safe in Biden’s America, Biden attacking America, Biden calling for defunding the police, Biden a cheerleader for communist China, abortion to the minute of birth. Why? The administration can be defended without the falsehoods (as I said before, exaggeration and cherry-picking are okay). Is there a Trump censorship team that mandates some level of lying from everyone?

Republicans actively opposing Trump seem to be the ones with real conservative principles. I’m somewhat skeptical—they are politicians after all. But “principled Republicans” is my working theory. I hope the future will bring a viable problem-solving Republican party in the future. I like compromise. I think Democrats go too far in several dimensions. For example, they are pushing $600 a week in unemployment benefits. That’s the equivalent to a forty-hour work week at $15 an hour, on top of state unemployment insurance. There are better ways to use stimulus money—like supporting state and local governments. [That is a minor example, but it’s relatively simple. Most policy issues get complicated quickly. Republicans seem incapable of supporting benefits to poor people (at least Republicans in the Senate), but compromise can work. The strange thing is the need for a stimulus bill passing the Senate, but the debate is between House Democrats and administration representatives. McConnell and his gang apparently are on the sidelines. A big stimulus should help Republicans the most, but no interest has been expressed. Do Democrats really try to lose?]

Back to the Convention. The Washington Post reported a “firehouse of falsehoods,” then a “tsunami of untruths,” “cascade of false claims,” “title wave of false claims and tall tales, plus “the mother of all fabrications.” The networks covering the convention more or less live (I watched NBC in the evening and CBS the next morning) called the speakers out on nothing, even the commentators. An interesting case was Eugene Robinson, a columnist for the Washington Post and NBC analyst. No criticism on the convention telecast, then both barrels blazing in next-day columns.

Columnist Dana Millbank noted that Trump was a man without a plan (despite the claims by Pence and other speakers): think Covid-19, the economic recovery, Hurricane Laura, and climate change. He takes no responsibility for any of this. His “leadership” on Black Live Matter, demonstrations turning into riots, “defunding police,” have all been negative. At most, “law and order” and claiming how bad it is under Biden—apparently, we are simultaneously currently living in the Biden-World hellhole and Trump’s nirvana.

Night four was Trump night, presented on the South Lawn of the White House; illegal under the Hatch Act, but it did look great, like Putin campaigning from the Kremlin. A massive audience, no social distancing or masks (well, a few). After all, there is no pandemic in Trump World. [It will soon be over, I keep telling myself.] I watched as long as I could, in what seemed a never-ending hate speech. Mainly, he repeated all the previous claims of the week, added more, plus his extemporaneous add-ons. Trump World is wonderful, with amazing claims about what he will do: a vaccine that will “crush the virus,” crime will stop because of his heroic law and order rhetoric. I struggled to see how the failings mentioned were because of Biden World; apparently, there are Democrats around creating mini-Biden hellholes. Although out of office, Biden is somehow destroying America—that’s power!

The fact checkers must have hired all the temps and interns they could find and stayed up all night. They seemed to analyze every sentence of the speech (yah, it was that deceptive). Many were misstatements or misinterpretation of reality, in part because of complex details that the checkers reviewed. Lots of falsehoods and outright lies, up to a rare “Bottomless Pinocchio” for his claim he will protect pre-existing conditions.

I can report that Texas is firmly Trump country. Trump/Pence signs dot the neighborhood and beyond. Local Trumpers repeat the various falsehood as categorical facts. They must be really excited about all the new ammo from tonight. Of course, Texas wasn’t supposed to be in play. I can only hope the half dozen or so swing state voters that will determine the outcome can carefully analyze current events (that is, relying on critical thinking skills) and have smooth election voting.

*I watched the Democratic Convention also. It was okay, with limited work for fact checkers; long on hope and a call for decency, short on policy. It went well, but I found little I wanted to write about. Biden could be a good president; leadership means surrounding yourself with great advisors, listening to them and making the best decisions possible. Or mediocre. Given the current administration, two cheers for mediocrity.

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© 2016 Gary Giroux