Hello, Cleveland!

Night One of the Trump National Convention is in the Books

The first night of the Trump National Convention is in the books, and you didn’t miss much.

First, there was chaos on the floor today, laying bare the hard-knuckle politics that come standard with nominating a goon like Donald Trump in this tumultuous era. I shudder to ponder if any other presumptive nominee would lean so hard to define binding and scrapping the idea of a Conscience Clause for delegates, or if they’d have to. In 2012, the Romney Campaign decided to make a bold move toward binding delegates in 2016, angering the grassroots conservative activists. In 2016, the Trump Campaign and the RNC squashed a fledgling rebellion, altering the relationship between the elected delegates and the party. The Trumpians think this is par for the course; the conservative activists think it’s the death of their representation in the party. Indeed, I’m sympathetic — a conscience clause seems reasonable for a supposedly representative body. Delegates don’t truly have a vote otherwise. So why have delegates at all?

I guess they could always abstain. I’d resign.

As for the speakers, Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had a lot to say, very loudly, but in the era of law enforcement coming under fire from black militants, his and Sheriff David Clarke’s words had a point, and missed the mark. Mr. Mayor, that is not how you give a unity speech — “what happened to ‘there is no white America. There is no black America. When did that America go away? Where did it go!?!’” Far more effective, “here’s how we rebuild a truly united America…” His overall message: “what I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America!” Trump is currently presenting himself as “the law and order candidate” and he is right to. Giuliani made sure to bring up Benghazi (more on that later) and urge a ban on resettling refugees from terror-sponsoring states. I didn’t know the country was reeling from refugees from North Korea and Iran. His best line:

“When they come to save your life, they don’t ask you if you’re black or white — they just come to save you!”

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke received a rockstar’s welcome at this convention— they always seem to come from Wisconsin. His message, powerfully and articulately delivered seemed like the start of a political campaign with the slogan — Blue Lives Matter. I’ve never heard of a convention floor cheering for the exoneration of a police officer that was unfortunately involved in the tragic death of a teenager, but it happened. The prosecution was indeed malicious, but it struck the wrong chord. Cheer for Justice, though, that I understand. And cheer for the law enforcement, the brave men and women of America’s police forces facing a long, hot summer literally under the gun, for you, America, so that every family, every community is safe. This isn’t a political message, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Milwaukee has a lot of problems with policing, with homicide, police brutality, drugs, and human trafficking, yet he feels the need to be there in Cleveland to give a powerful address on the relationship between law enforcement, the rule of law, and the exceptionalism of our Republic. At times, Sheriff Clarke has been known to be dramatically off message, but not last night, and we can say thank you to Trump and the Republicans for bringing this hero to the stage.

“I believe that this noble mission is not just a requirement but a prerequisite for achieving this campaign’s goal of ‘Making America Great Again’.”

Beyond that, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst talked about herself. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, preparing for 2020, needs to work on that scowl, but otherwise, it was a good speech. And Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was once a successful judge, but his obsession as a Senator is over “Obamatrade” (the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is on ice in the United States) and immigration. He hit all the best talking points, but the very real concern over the risks of unchecked immigration have been undone by the unhelpful callousness with which Senator Sessions has approached immigration reform and border security. The Republicans put an immigration restrictionist on the stage tonight, and, if anyone was watching, that would be a seminal moment.

The politics of immigration are seriously fraught, frayed to the breaking point by a presumptive nominee that denounced immigrants from Mexico as “bringing crime, raping people” on his very first day as a candidate for President. Stopping illegal immigration through increased border security, mandating E-Verify for employers, modernizing the visa-tracking systems, empowering ICE to enforce court-ordered deportation proceedings, all of it is a must. With Donald Trump, all we get is the fantasy of “big, beautiful wall”. Making America safe again with an unworkable, costly, stupid idea such as this amounts to devaluing the politics of safety, and the Republicans know better, or, they used to.

I don’t know what to make of Sean Smith’s mother being used as a political prop. It’s emotional, it’s heartfelt, it’s sad, and it’s an indictment of Hillary Clinton’s failed leadership leading up to the tragic night of September 11th, 2012. Her testimony is also a searing indictment of an Obama administration official that outright lied about the attack to the victims’ families. But it is using the tears of a grieving mother as political tools, all for a reality show star-turned-presidential candidate, who called into Fox News while she was pouring her heart on stage.

Melania was the star of the night, and plagiarized Michelle Obama. Sure, that is what everyone is going to be talking about but that was the best part of a pretty lackluster, cold speech that tried its best to put a human face on the larger-than-life celebrity that introduced his wife after walking out, clapping for himself, to a WWE-style entrance to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” blaring over the loudspeaker. Brian May, call your lawyer. Still, she offered no funny anecdotes, no examples of his charity and compassion, nothing of value, but words, words that ring hollow when you affix them to the life and times of the “billionaire” playboy that affectionately refers to himself as “The Donald”.

Then there was Flynn, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, to be exact, a poor speaker with a badly prepared message. People were seen filing out of the room, and I don’t blame them “Wake up America!” “Hillary Clinton is an Obama clone.” I’m going to bed, or to find the closest hotel bar…

Oh wait, I resigned already.

There’s plenty to worry about “an Obama clone” and his Former Secretary of State being the next Commander-in-Chief without even looking at the “character” of her challenger — her demeanor as a diplomat, her no-holds-barred attitude and self-serving ideological compass. Flynn barely touched on that. I don’t disagree with what he said, but none of it really speaks to the challenges the world is facing.

We absolutely must Make America Safe Again, by all means, I agree, but what I got out of it tonight was: Hillary weak, Trump strong. And whatever Michelle Obama said.

2016 continues to be summed up in two words: missed opportunities.

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