Friday, July 22, 2016

RNC retrospective, day by day and dog whistles by night

Joan Walsh (The Nation) picks it apart one day at a time.


Monday night was destroyed by the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal, which Trump’s campaign managed to drag out over three days before owning up to her borrowings from first lady Michelle Obama.


On Tuesday, Christie’s mock trial of Clinton was vicious and repellent, but of course played well in the room. Yet it didn’t make the 10 pm hour that network television planned to cover. Donald J. Trump Jr.’s decent speech did make it that night, but he was followed by a ’90s soap star turned avocado farmer. Why?


On Wednesday night, the last Trump rival standing, who hadn’t yet endorsed him, got the coveted network slot. But Senator Ted Cruz delivered a gutsy non-endorsement that enraged the Trump forces, showcased a divided party, and resulted in Cruz’s wife, Heidi, being escorted from the arena for her own safety. It also sucked the media attention away—once again—from vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, who gave a charming, self-deprecating speech. Pence effectively vouched for Trump’s character to his far-right evangelical Christian constituency, while hiding his own cruel, retro beliefs about LGBT and women’s rights that have become Indiana law.


Certainly things could not get worse ...

Thursday night was not much better. We got not one but two videos about Trump’s fabulous career in real estate, which may inspire voters that he can rebuild America—or remind them he’s a rich mogul who exists in another world from their own. ...

Members of his family starred in Kids Talk.

Daughter Ivanka gave one of the best speeches of the week, but she described a Trump unrecognizable to most people, even admirers. For instance, she said her father is committed to making sure women have equal pay and affordable childcare, terms I’ve rarely if ever heard cross his lips. (Think Progress provides more background here -- and see below.)

ThinkProgress reports an interaction showcasing Trump's shallowness on child care and equal pay.

At a recent event for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, a member of the women’s policy organization Make It Work asked him about his thoughts on child care.

“I love children,” he responded. After her follow up, he continued, “It’s a big subject darling.” He then pivoted to address the rest of the crowd, saying in a derisive tone, “She wants to know my thoughts on child care. Come on, we’ll talk for about 10 hours.”

And then the night was capped by Trump, rambling, dishonest, red-faced, screaming 76-minute rant. (See other posts today for more on his speech.) Joan Walsh summarizes.

... the question of the night is whether it will help Trump. He’s getting credit for responding, once, to chants of “Lock her up” by ad-libbing “Let’s defeat her in November.” Yet he did no such thing other times it was chanted, and he continued the crusade to define Clinton as a criminal, rather than a rival he disagrees with ideologically. We already knew this election was going to be an ugly fight for the state of the country’s soul. I don’t think Trump helped his chances much on Thursday night, but the fact that he has any chance at all is chilling.

'Twas a dark and scary night: "This concludes democracy."

The GOP presidential nominee's acceptance speech was a litany of fear and resentment, a dog whistle to disaffected white Americans.

Check out Bill Moyers' commentary on Trump's speech and the mob's response - after the break.

The GOP’s new big dog blew the whistle Thursday night for nearly an hour and a half and it was loud and shrill enough to reach the ears of every angry, resentful, disaffected white American. The tone was divisive, dark, dystopian and grim.

Here was the alpha dog of the von Trump family, baying at a blood-red moon that the hills are alive with the sounds of menace.

According to Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, this land is rapidly becoming as bleak and dangerous as one of those twisted, vicious kingdoms in Game of Thrones, a place filled with violent crime and despair, a smoldering ruin overrun with foreigners out to take our jobs and terrorists bent on destroying our villages.

It’s mourning in America.

And only he can save us.


So he will do it all alone, this Trump. Until he has the US military to carpet-bomb on his orders, and the nuclear codes at the ready beside his bed at 3 a.m., and the 101st Airborne at the southern border, ready to act — as long as Mexico pays for it.

... Trump announced, “Here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth and nothing else… I will tell you the plain facts that have been edited out of your nightly news and your morning newspaper.”

But as Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee noted:

“The dark portrait of America that Donald J. Trump sketched… is a compendium of doomsday stats that fall apart upon close scrutiny. Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong.

“When facts are inconveniently positive — such as rising incomes and an unemployment rate under 5 percent — Trump simply declines to mention them. He describes an exceedingly violent nation, flooded with murders, when in reality, the violent-crime rate has been cut in half since the crack cocaine epidemic hit its peak in 1991.”

He said 58 percent of young African-Americans are unemployed — and the dog whistle signals, you know what that means — but the number’s actually about half that. He insists we’re one of the highest taxed nations in the world — we’re nowhere near — and that we have “no way to screen” refugees, which is just not true.

The speech went on and on like that and the crowd inside the convention hall ate it up, their bitterness and frustration spurred on by Trump’s own sputtering, red-faced outrage. The legacy of Hillary Clinton, he said, is “death, destruction and weakness.” She proposes “mass amnesty, mass immigration, and mass lawlessness.” As for Barack Obama, “The irresponsible rhetoric of our president, who has used the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color, has made America a more dangerous environment for everyone.”

By the way, of the 2,472 delegates at the convention, only 18 of them were black, the lowest percentage in over a century, according to History News Network and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. With Trump at the helm, Republicans will soon have purged their party of any memory of its own past. “Lincoln” simply will have been the name of a town car.

As columnist Eugene Robinson said about Thursday’s speech, “Frankly, this was a message, at least to my ears, to white America: Be afraid. I will protect you.” It’s not for nothing that as convention officials projected tweets from Trump supporters on the hall’s video screens during his speech, one of them turned out to be from a notorious white supremacist account.

Can anyone imagine Donald Trump breaking into Amazing Grace at the service for black worshippers in Charleston, SC, gunned down in their church by a white supremacist? There certainly was not a grace note in his speech. And — sorry, Ivanka — not a single note of “kindness and compassion.” No touch of humility.

Watching, we could only think of Augustus, during the first century B.C., in a time roiled by corruption and the wealth of empire, who terminated the government and installed himself as emperor, careful to preserve all the forms of the republic while dispensing with their meaning.

Or, as the less august, but funnier folks at The Onion tweeted while the smoke from Trump’s cannonade lingered into the night, “Thanks for joining our live coverage of the RNC. This concludes democracy.”

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