As I transitioned from Democratic convention coverage to Republican convention coverage I expected, I hoped, to be disoriented. The first evening did not disappoint me in this regard.
From the start the theme of religion was essential and it was Cardinal Timothy Nolan who spoke first. After the first speeches I believe I heard more references to God and religion than during the entire duration of the Democratic convention. It must be said that the religious right has been loyal to a president who gave them what they hoped for. The outgoing president made sure not to forget them.
Much like the Democratic side, every speaker delivered the message well. We were treated to a flawless assembly, an efficient operation. Donald Trump himself intervened, the first time to speak with a small group on the subject of COVID-19. Contrary to what we have seen among the Democrats, here no masks or social distancing. The contrast is interesting.
Some interventions were remarkably well delivered. Difficult, no matter our allegiance or our values, not to notice Nathalie Harp’s speech. The one who heads the initiative “Right to try” (laws that allow the use of experimental treatments that have not yet been authorized by the FDA) has shown an unusual aplomb in criticizing the democratic approach in health care.
As much as the Democrats tried to convince us of Joe Biden’s qualities of heart, of his empathy, as we repeated yesterday that Donald Trump can be tough, but he is good. Of course the president is abrasive and does not tolerate delays, but his determination draws from the source of his deep desire to improve the lot of his fellow citizens. Were you surprised? Marshmallow can be Democrat or Republican, it’s still marshmallow.
In the days leading up to the start of the convention, we were given a glimpse of a positive evening and a message of hope. Other than the portrayal of a president nicer than the media portrayed, there was nothing very new. The same themes and the same arguments as in 2016. If the recipe worked once, why not twice?
If Donald Trump’s unwavering electoral base certainly appreciated this first evening, I stressed on Monday that this base alone will not be enough to ensure a second term. Despite the interventions of former football star Hershel Walker, black Democratic representative Vernon Jones, Maximo Alvarez or Nikki Haley, I found very few ideas or proposals enticing to undecided voters, representatives of minorities or for women.
Of course, this was only the first night. Just as Democrats have grown in intensity from night to night, Republican strategists will no doubt be able to harness the fervor of the president’s supporters. For now it should be noted that the president and his family are omnipresent and that we are trying to remake the image of the tenant of the White House.
With the spotlight on him, Donald Trump is in his element and for the moment he respects the scenario. For how long?