Republicans’ convention turns the race in Trump’s favor
After just two days of the Republicans’ national convention, the Biden-Democratic house of cards began to collapse. In place of the gloom of the Wagnerian sorceresses that oppressed watchers of the Democratic convention last week, Republicans produced a crisp, lively procession of very articulate women and African Americans, in particular, who swaddled themselves in the usual patriotic exultations; by their demeanor and the content of their remarks, they have spiked the Democratic effort to portray the Trump Republican Party as a wretched ragtag of bigots and quasi-fascists.
Republicans have done the necessary to separate the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the urban guerrillas and terrorists mobbing some cities, from the overwhelming majority of Americans — including African Americans — who love their country, wish an upgrade in police techniques and, unlike the Democratic Party in its convention, condemn mob violence. The inability of Democrats to take their distance unreservedly from those who burn down whole districts of cities, assault the police and try to level statues of Frederick Douglass, U.S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln, was a time bomb that Republicans have wasted no time in detonating.
Democrats did not refer to the urban violence that has plagued America this summer, even though it is the uppermost political thought in the minds of most Americans, not excluding the coronavirus. Republicans — largely through excellent, persuasive African American spokespeople such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and the 34-year-old GOP attorney general of Kentucky, Daniel Cameron — exposed the cowardly Democratic placation of extremists, the colossal failure of corrupt Democratic municipal machines, and highlighted urban violence with positive, un-demagogic proposals for a combination of reform and law enforcement to combat it.
Where Democrats chiefly spoke in a darkened room, and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) seemed like the narrator of a Bela Lugosi performance as Count Dracula in the Transylvanian dusk, Republicans spoke in a brightly lit, flag-festooned hall. And where Democrats presented a succession of rather tired political office-seekers and -holders, Republicans interspersed young, promising officeholders with articulate, sympathetic advocates from many walks of life for key elements of the Republican program.
The Republican African American speakers dismembered the traditional Democratic stance that Black America has a moral and historic duty to vote Democratic. Billy Graham’s granddaughter made a strong but tasteful pitch for the evangelical vote without in any way confining the Republican Party to that section of the public. A defector from Planned Parenthood, principal provider of abortions in the United States, made a compelling pro-life pitch without inciting the inference that the Republicans wish to ban abortions.
Democrats were reduced to crabbing that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the convention from the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Republicans explained that he was speaking in a personal capacity, that the State Department had no part in preparing his address and its contents were not derived from any facts hitherto unknown publicly.
Sen. Scott closed out the first night with a powerful invocation of this administration’s fiscal and social efforts to revive depressed areas, which had been highly successful prior to the onset of the coronavirus.
The most powerful performance was that of Melania Trump in the White House Rose Garden, to conclude the convention’s second night. Mrs. Trump offered no criticism of the Democrats, explaining that she did not wish to add to the divisions that exist in the country. She movingly spoke to COVID-19 sufferers and recounted the achievements of her husband’s administration in containing and reducing the virus. She spoke eloquently as a legal immigrant fleeing a communist homeland. And, without histrionics or hucksterism, she spoke effectively of the need to mobilize national opinion behind nonviolent progress over all of society’s imperfections, including those that have resulted from what she described as regrettable aspects of American history. It was a well-worded address, and the first lady’s pronounced but not acoustically irritating Slovenian accent highlighted her credentials to speak of the comparative greatness and potential of her adoptive country.
The Rose Garden setting that had Democrats clucking in protest, the unexceptionable clarity of her message, and Melania Trump’s always startling pulchritude and elegant style, all made her extensive speech so powerful that even CNN was momentarily incapable of criticism. Yet, shortly after it began, Bette Midler, demonstrating Hollywood’s nasty and unfathomable Philistinism, tweeted out a complaint: “She still can’t speak English.”
At the end of her remarks, a CNN panel demonstrated its compulsive hostility and also the ponderous capacity for improvisation of the Trump-hating media, whom Mrs. Trump dismissively criticized without naming any particular outlet. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer began by offering the first complimentary words I have ever heard from him about any representative of the Trump administration. Next came fellow anchor Jake Tapper, who fetched up on the notion that Mrs. Trump was rebelling against her husband by speaking sympathetically about the coronavirus and avoiding direct criticism of Democrats. Chief political correspondent Dana Bash built on this theme and political correspondent Abby Philip, with the advantage of speaking last, was able to imply the opening of a full-scale schism in the Republican Party and the Trump administration, even possibly in the president’s marriage, because the first lady spoke with such compelling moderation.
Interspersed in the evening’s convention remarks were a citizenship naturalization ceremony in which the president welcomed new Americans from five Asian, African and Latin American countries, and his grant of a full pardon to a convicted bank robber who had served his sentence and established an organization to assist ex-convicts in finding a law-abiding, constructive place in society.
After only two days, Republicans sliced horizontally through Joe Biden’s innocuous, passive candidacy surmounting a militant Bernie Sanders-ite program, no part of which enjoys majority support among the American public. Barring an unlikely flare-up of the virus or a historic faux pas by the president, this electoral race should now begin to open up in Trump’s favor.
Conrad Black is an essayist, former newspaper publisher, and author of ten books, including three on Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. Follow him on Twitter @ConradMBlack.
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