When will GOP stop attacking Clinton and start praising Trump?
© Greg Nash

I realize that national political conventions are a giant assemblage of the party faithful. The purpose is to fire up the base and give them red meat, but what is going on at the GOP convention in Cleveland does not resemble anything that I have ever seen before.

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I've been to 16 national political conventions (11 Democratic, 5 Republican). Yes, there were moments of pure invective and heated rhetoric; I've observed those at both party conclaves. But at this gathering, the attack-dog speech is the standard. Repeated salvos that are not clever, witty or even slightly humorous is the hallmark of this convention. Gov. Chris Christie's (N.J.) speech leading to chants of "lock her up" was a new low. Christie loved it and seemed to be delighted that the crowd was so into his presentation.

I don't know whether the Democrats in Philadelphia next week will do the same, but I sure hope they don't. Here in Cleveland, one speaker after another seems to outdo the preceding one with ugly and coarse comments about presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCommunion vote puts spotlight on Hispanic Catholics Trump's biggest political obstacle is Trump The Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them MORE.

Of course, I don't expect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE will say anything nice or complimentary about Clinton. But I ask you, tomorrow night when he accepts the nomination and the whole country is watching, will he alter his tone instead of the usual defamatory remarks, and provide some real substance?

Will he elevate his persona with words that inspire? His entire campaign seems to be defined exclusively by denigrating Clinton. Where are his solutions to our problems? How will he deal with contentious issues? Does he really have it in him to be anything other than abrasive?

Can he come up with one truly memorable uplifting phrase other than "Make America great again"? Those words, to me, have always been a way to signal to some Americans, Remember when the country was run by just white people? Those were the good old days.

In fact, it seems that the Trump strategy at this convention is to rile up the base and all those who love the 1950s. It sure isn't the big-tent theory. Oh sure, there are a sprinkling of African-Americans and Hispanics, but not many.

The one constituency Republicans are really worried about, though, is women. Especially female independents and/or the college-educated. That's why they are featuring so many female speakers.

Wednesday, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNew Jersey governor tweaks Cruz on Cancun over moving truck quip Hirono tells Ted Cruz to stop 'mansplaining' Senate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry MORE (Texas) will speak. He is the next incarnation if Trump loses in November. The party of Rockefeller, Percy, Cooper and Javits is long gone. Here, nobody even refers to the Bushes, Romney, McCain or even Ike. No, this is a new breed of Republican. It's not a pretty sight. After the convention proceedings are over, you feel empty. No moments of joy or celebration.

One thoughtful District of Columbia GOP delegate, Kris Hammond, told me with a combination of anger and sadness that this might be "the last Republican president in [his] lifetime." He was not afraid to say out loud that this nominee was nothing more than a "charismatic clown."

The party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt? Forget those icons. They wouldn't recognize their fellow Republicans.

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.


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