Tuesday, July 19, 2016 5:59 PM
There’s something very ‘high-school’ about this Republican convention in Cleveland. In a way, Trump’s entire race has had the childish aspect of someone who can’t be tried as an adult—and knows it. And this freedom isn’t due to his own youth, but to the uncritical thinking of his supporters, and of RNC boosters generally. Just before the convention began, Trump excused his running mate, Pence, for his vote on the Iraq War, with rationalizing that belied his claim that Hillary Clinton’s vote on the same was criminal incompetence. He can’t see his own random snap-judgments as anything but strength of personality—the childish clinging to one’s preconceptions regardless of any evidence of alternate interpretations. Stubbornness is a strength—but it helps if you’re right to begin with.
The convention itself incites us to compare it to one of Mickey and Judy’s attempts to ‘put on a show in the old barn’. But that would insult the memory of those fine performers—what the RNC is putting on in Cleveland is closer to the Little Rascals’ put-on-a-show episode—or a high school dance. Queen disclaimed any authorization for Trump’s use of “We Are the Champions” in a complaint-tweet—and Stephen Colbert remarked on the oddity of Trump choosing the song of a bi-sexual foreigner.
Melania ‘borrowed’ some of her more personal remarks from Michelle Obama’s speech of eight years earlier—but they were, in her defense, excellent phraseology. And it’s nice to hear Republicans applauding Michelle’s thinking, even if they were tricked into it.
The most high-school aspect of this unconventional convention, though, is the level of discourse. Various speakers laud the goodness of Trump—where we who have witnessed earlier conventions are used to hearing about important geopolitics, economic policies, social justice concerns, et. al. When the speakers run out of adjectives in praise of Trump, they damn Hillary Clinton as if the woman were in the dockets at Salem, lo these centuries past.
The feistier ones will take the occasional poke at Obama, too—but it’s hard to hack through both his positive stats and his immense approval rating to find cause for blame and shame. I heard Scott Baio actually question Obama’s Christianity, pointing out that he had a foreign-sounding name—“Does that sound Christian to you?” he asked. Oh-Em-Gee, Chochi—that was last election—and absurd, if you remember that one of the first things they tried to tag Obama with was his lifelong relation with his ‘activist’ Christian minister.
Giuliani shouted out that we had to “protect our police”. Several officers have been killed by madmen in recent days—but Giuliani’s tone left me wondering if he wanted to protect them from armed madmen—or from criticism of their tendency to shoot unarmed minorities. I think our police forces will survive the criticism. The unarmed madmen—well, they’ve been to schools and movie theaters and nightclubs from coast-to-coast—police are just their latest fixation. Black Lives Matter has not been arming anyone, so far as I know—that’s all on the NRA and the second amendment.
I could never understand the Conservative agenda—but the fact that significant numbers of the far right are Stop-Trump-ers indicates that this is not a left vs. right election. This is something else—something that defies description—and sometimes beggars belief. I imagine it’s similar to what people felt in other countries, when they saw their countrymen falling for a demagogue’s over-heated rhetoric and quailed at the thought of the destruction to come. But, in this convention, we are seeing a consensus—an alliance of bullies backing the head bully. High school bullies are bad enough, in situ—make one the President of the United States and –watch out!