Writings and observations

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Day one of the Republican National – that is, Trump – Convention went about as well as it realistically might have. Put otherwise: Not so well.

It started with the largest, most passionate floor conflict I’ve watched since at least the Democrats in 1980, maybe further back than that. It wound up the way these outside challenges almost always do. The Donald Trump forces were quick to quash the opposition (some of it seemingly led from Utah), and maybe too quick: There was some fury in the crowd. Delegations from two states, Iowa and Colorado, walked out.

On the wide shots, there seemed to be an awful lot of empty seats. That may be wrong for some reason or other, but the convention looked underpopulated compared to other conventions I’ve watched.

Watching via television is a tricky thing when evaluating audience response, but it seemed to me that the energy of the crowd seemed drained after that. Only a few speakers seemed to really draw it out.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is a strong speaker and seemed to get the crowd stirred, but he was just about alone in doing that. The others were an unusual mix of military people, entertainers (a couple of little-known actors with less presence), a long stretch about Benghazi that was hard to follow and seemed by now beside the point. And a too-long speech by Trump’s wife. (Speeches by spouses generally should be kept brief: A note for the Democratic convention to come.) Later in the day, audience responses and applause seemed, on TV at least, to be sparse and slight.

A political convention is where among other things the two parties get to critique each other. Certainly there was no lack of blasts from the GOP at the Democrats (no doubt to be returned next week), but what was missing was a lack of coherence about what the problem was. The Obama Administration was accused of being a failure all over the place, all over the world, generally, but the specifics were largely missing, or misrepresented. What exactly was it that the administration did that hurt the country’s prospects so much? There were no real through themes, no takeaways.

And I can’t wait for the fact checking to weigh in today’s speeches. Iowa Senator Joni Ernest remarked during one of the many fear-fear-fear segments, “Terrorists from ISIS are in every one of our 50 states.” Really? How could she know that? Does she know who they are?

That was only a shadow of what the retired general, Michael Flynn, had to say, warning us that we are imminent risk of national destruction from ISIS.

Something I think I have never heard from a political convention before: Demands – repeated demands – that the presidential nominee of the other party be imprisoned, even though convicted of no offenses at all. I’m fairly sure I never heard that from the Democrats in 2004. But I heard it repeatedly among the Republicans on Monday. And not, I suspect, for the last time.

And finally, the song they played upon adjournment: “Sweet Caroline.” Really? Do they know who the song is about?

Three more days to go.

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