I wrote in a previous column that this convention was defined by its shamelessness, which President Trump’s speech certainly exemplified. I gave short shrift to its illogic.
Why would we need to make America great again again — an actual pledge that Mike Pence made on Wednesday night — if Trump had made America great again already? This isn’t a re-election campaign. It’s a tape loop. I’m surprised Trump on Thursday night didn’t crow that he alone can fix what he alone didn’t fix despite more than three and a half years so far to do so.
He did tell Americans to look long, hard and fearfully at recent scenes of lawlessness and violence in some cities for a glimpse of Biden’s America. But, wait, isn’t this Trump’s America? The unrest is happening on his watch, so how does keeping him in office protect America from it?
It takes a vacuum of integrity to sell such bunk with such righteousness. It takes a Trump.
Like Ivanka! Introducing her father, she bragged that he, unlike those icky career politicians, didn’t “kick the can until it was someone else’s problem.” Did she mean a can like the national debt, which he promised to curb but which ballooned monstrously during his first term, even before the pandemic came along?
Ivanka achieved a norm-busting double whammy by not only shilling at the White House but deciding that it was OK as a federal employee to make a nakedly partisan speech at an expressly partisan event, much as Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pompeo and Ben Carson before her had done. It was another trailblazing moment for America’s princess, who can put a picture of it in her photo album alongside portraits of her and the president with Kim Jong-un in the Demilitarized Zone.
Will this mix of pageantry and prevarication work? My stomach is in knots, maybe just because the stakes are so high, maybe because Trump offers the kind of simple answers and jingoism that are often most seductive to voters, maybe because, in the midst of all the malarkey, there was a cunning recognition of where Biden and Democrats are weak.
“How,” Trump said, “can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”
That’s a misrepresentation, of course, but one that will have resonance for many voters. Biden should beware of it and shut it down, lest Trump’s barely endurable speech presage a wholly unendurable second term.