By any measure the first night of the Republican National Convention of 2016 was an unmitigated disaster. Not that it will hurt the Trump campaign in any way, or the enthusiasm Republicans have for his candidacy right through November.
Scott Baio, Rudy Guiliani, and Melania Trump were among the headliners at the first night of the RNC. Also a mother of a favored son lost in the Benghazi attacks.
Conventions are supposed to attack the other party’s opponent, so that fact is not by itself any surprise. The Democrats will do that in Philadelphia in August. But the attacks on their opponents were so mean spirited, hateful, unrestrained, and lacking in imagination and vision for our nation’s future that it left millions of Americans gasping. It should.
No one blames the grieving mother of one of our fallen at Benghazi when she called for Hillary Clinton to be put in prison and that she is a murderer. What about the GOP’s judgement in putting her behind a podium and in front of a national audience to watch her hate and her grief? This was the manipulation of a grieving mother on a level unseen in modern political history. Past GOP convention managers would have seen this for what it is. The assertions made by the mother were themselves false, and not connected to any fact.
Scott Baio made a number of hateful statements to the delight of the mob who happen to be delegates to the convention. But he is better known for Tweeting that Hillary Clinton was a C**T with a banner behind a photo of the former Secretary of State showing the letters with only one letter blocked but making it obvious what is meant. Having an actor, and frankly, not the best actor we have making the speech is puzzling.
Tamron Hall, an MSNBC host asked Baio why he Tweeted such things. He said it was just a joke. But I know a lot of women in my life. They would see the Tweet as a hateful disrespect for a good woman, however we think of her politics. And another Tweet Hall pointed to made fun a second first lady, Michelle Obama. Again, Baio said he is from Brooklyn and he just has that sense of humor. Well we at Struggles for Justice do not find that sort of humor funny. We find it racist.
Rudy Guilani, the biggest and best known GOP Pol to speak the first night is a politician far away from his prime. And he spoke so hatefully of the Black Lives Matter Movement as being a terrorist organization, and going into the Benghazi attacks, and the now disproved E-mail Scandal as grounds for again, criminalizing the former Secretary of State. How could anyone, no matter how depraved they might be want such an angry, racially divisive, and misogynistic speech to go into the historical record as epitomizing Guilani’s life and achievements which do include some fine moments?
Iowa Congressman Steve King was being interviewed by a cable news channel as part of a panel discussion when he told the panel that when it comes to Western Civilization there are no subgroups other than white Anglo-Saxon’s who have made significant contributions to that civilization. This white supremacist’s view of our nation is now mainstream GOP doctrine.
The one light in a dark night of the soul at the abomination that is the RNC Convention of 2016, was the appearance of Donald Trump’s sweet and lovely wife Melania. She did NOT attack or hate anybody in her speech. It was a wonderful speech and lovingly delivered. Even here disaster struck. Much of the best lines were plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC Speech. Who is to blame? We don’t think Melania is. She finished only a year of college and it is becoming increasingly apparent she was left to her own devices to write and deliver it. What she did is wrong. Plagiarism is always wrong. Where was a competent speech writer to prevent her from googling Michelle Obama’s speech and offering its best lines as her own? Many people could innocently make that mistake. The Trump campaign let down the woman who may be the next first lady of the nation.
Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst’s speech, one of the few real headliner’s as an up and coming talent in the party could not offer anything but hateful rhetoric against the Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Only at the end did she say anything supporting the party’s nominee Donald Trump.
The night was dedicated to making America Safer. It was to be a series of speeches on what the GOP is going to do to prevent more acts of terrorism, racial divisiveness, and national security via our military, and foreign policy. Nothing of the sort was offered.
Conventions are also about telling the American public your party’s positive vison for our future as a people, a nation, and a purported democracy within a democratic republican form of government. Nothing. Literally nothing.
Instead what was on display both inside the convention hall and outside in Cleveland were a succession of hateful speakers demonizing their political opponent’s and races of people not often seen at GOP conventions. Like all the others this one has only 18 black delegates, and while they did hear from the Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff Clarke a Fox media darling, he offered a diatribe of hate against his own race.
Many media watchers of the first day noted the poison environment on the floor of the convention as well as from the podium. The “better Angels of our nature,” something the founder of the GOP Abraham Lincoln appealed to, was absent. Why?
The former senator and Republican Party stalwart Gordon Humphrey and one of the Never Trump delegates reacted to the chair of the convention not following the Congressional mode of rules the GOP itself is following at the debate by saying the Trump team and many supporters in the hall were “brown shirts” and “acting like fascists.” A female delegate told reporters that she was accosted in the bathroom at the hall when she was identified as a Never Trump delegate roughed up and told to leave the convention, Cleveland, and the State of Ohio behind or be killed.
Outside the convention conspiracy and hate monger Alex Jones, someone Trump favors a great deal, held court. Thousands of “Bikers for Trump” all of them armed to the teeth are coming by the thousands. The Oath Keepers are in Cleveland and armed to the teeth. The Oath Keepers are considered by the authoritative Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. So too, have an equally dangerous small group from the new Black Panther Party, despised by the original founders of the Black Panthers and condemned by them. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the New Black Panther Party is a hate group. It is. Bikers for Trump do have some leadership at the Convention and they do tell reporters that they are not here to cause violence. Let’s hope they are right.
Meanwhile, the GOP dominated Congress of the United States has gone home for the summer with Zika virus funding unfinished as if it does not matter. Most voters would and must see this as irresponsible. GOP obstruction of Obama since 2010 has made our legislative branch totally dysfunctional. Is this the party we want to continue to lead the Congress? Is this the man we want to give so much power to? Where are the likes of Howard Baker, Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan, and more? Bob Dole supports Trump but only out of strict lifetime party loyalty. John McCain is not there, Mitt Romney is not. Paul Ryan may be but Mitch McConnell was booed by his own party.
The Bible speaks to what Trump is bringing on and his permissive climate of racial hatred. “He that troubelith his own house will inherit the wind.”