Friday, July 22, 2016

I Was There: The Cleveland Republican National Convention

My photos of the Republican National Convention 7-21-16
Just got off the plane from Cleveland, where I spent five days interacting--and not--at the Republican National Convention.

What was it like? Chaos, conflict, whispers to us from people saying they're not for Trump. The fact they'd look over their shoulders while whispering says something.

The people who paid their own money to attend, and that's all the delegates and most in the audience (including me) came to the convention a mixed bag. Most were already on board for Trump; some delegates were committed to others. The vote Monday night to release delegates to vote according to personal choice failed narrowly. That sewed up the Trump coronation.

The rest of the convention, from my vantage, seemed like what you'd expect--an effort to build momentum for Trump. And in Cleveland, it was effective.

Trump's greatest assets are his children, and they'd practiced their well-crafted speeches and delivered them well. Melania's, embroiled in a plagiarism dispute, then concession afterward, was endearing, because it was clear that she was uncomfortable and that English is her second language.

I was disappointed in Marco Rubio's one-minute, twenty second videotaped endorsement. He looked like a wimp.

Ted Cruz started out in person at the Convention podium congratulating Donald Trump for winning the primary race and the nomination. He went on to urge conservative principles by voting for Republicans down-ticket. The boos for suggesting they vote their consciences reflected the type of crowd who chose to attend this particular topsy-turvy event.

The climax on Thursday night featured one heavy-handed piece of Trump praise after the next. However, I must say I was reminded of my last convention experience in Tampa, where the same laudatory style of lineup effectively introduced Mitt Romney. The glorification squad was conspicuously heavy on women and people of color, especially in videos featuring employees of the Trump organization.

Ivanka's introduction was a litany of women's issues--day care, maternity leave, women's
Ivanka Trump praising her dad
wages, set in a well-written series of personal testimonials about her father's competence--"
I’ve learned a lot about the world from walking construction jobs by his side." She has the advantages of being a female millennial.

Trump has an arrogant air and a ceaseless smirk. He read his speech from a teleprompter and it touched upon everything on a conservative's wish list except where the money will come from to pay for new big-ticket items he proposes--tax reductions, bolstering the military, "taking care of our veterans," making college affordable. He repeated his (to my mind, offensive) determination to build a big wall to keep out Hispanics crossing the southern border, as well as his pledge to spurn any immigrants from countries with terrorist issues.

By the time the balloons and confetti fell, the hall had reverberated to chants of "lock her up!" and several rounds of "U-S-A!" All the America-First-ism and "I am your law and order candidate!" talk was a bit scary to me. The hordes were fired up and ready to go; a moment's distraction by a woman hoping to hoist some kind of protest sign (she was white; I couldn't read the sign) was quickly squelched. By the way, Trump did thank the evangelical Christian community, but he never used the word "God" in his speech other than the perfunctory "God bless you" at the very end.
When the balloons and confetti fell, everyone cheered

The upshot: The mood in Cleveland concluded as exuberantly as any other convention, mainly because everyone left participating was already aboard the Trump Train.

The news coverage, however, was a lot less celebratory, and with the Democratic Convention upcoming, I think any uptick the Republicans gain this week will be cancelled out next week.

But this year, with two disliked candidates, it's anybody's call. My takeaway is that the campaign still has a long way to go.

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