Friday, July 22, 2016

Republican Convention: Winners and Losers


In accepting the Presidential nomination last night at the Republican National convention Donald Trump blew a big opportunity by delivering a boring, tedious speech that lasted 73 minutes. Instead of transcending the messages of previous speakers at the convention, Trump chose to go over the same ground over and over again.

One way to transcend is to show some sense of humor, especially if it is the self-deprecating type of humor. Tied to self-deprecation is a sense of humility that was totally lacking in Trump’s presentation. It was hard night after night to hear the Trump children speaking ad nauseum about the greatness of their father. If Trump really wants to wear the mantle of Ronald Reagan he should be able to laugh at himself and makes us laugh with him.

I thought the Republican Convention got off to a good start on Monday with Malania Trump’s speech despite the flap that ensued overnight about the lifting of two paragraphs from a speech by Michelle Obama. One of my relatives despises Trump and admitted that she watched Monday night waiting for his wife to falter, but admitted that both she and her husband thought that Malania had been “terrific.” I think her sentiments were shared by millions across the country.

However, any momentum generated Monday night was lost on Tuesday night. I am a longtime Republican but I found some of the speeches embarrassing and so difficult to watch that I repeatedly flicked away. I did listen to New Jersey governor Chris Christie as he did his assigned hit-job on Hillary Clinton. Christie bragged about being a former Federal prosecutor but acted more like a hanging judge. His rhetorical device of repeatedly inciting the crowd to render guilty verdicts on Hillary Clinton reminded me of the biblical trial of Jesus where the crowd was incited to repeatedly call out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”

If Trump wins in November, Christie will probably be his Attorney General, a role that would seem to suit him. It now seems obvious why he did not get far as a Presidential candidate, or even why he was not picked to join the ticket as Vice-President. He is in his second term as Governor of New Jersey, a traditional Democrat stronghold, but seems to have failed in moving the State in another direction.

Wednesday night was full of high drama and three speeches stood out. Senator Ted Cruz, another failed Presidential aspirant, was given a chance to address the convention in the hope that he would rally his supporters in the crowd and in the country to the cause of Republican victory in November. As Cruz droned on in his usual colorless and humorless way, it became clear that he was just going to play the role of a sore loser and lecture the convention for choosing someone other than him. How arrogant and self-righteous is it to tell us that we should vote our own conscience? Eventually, he left the podium amid a loud chorus of boos.

Fortunately, Cruz was followed on the podium by Newt Gingrich who not only diffused the tense situation, but also gave a magisterial speech outlining the dangers facing America and the importance of the upcoming election. Many people do not like Gingrich but he is obviously a very talented and knowledgeable politician. If Trump is elected, I suspect that Gingrich will play an important role in his administration. It would not surprise me if he became Secretary of State.

Donald Trump’s decision to choose Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, to be his running mate would appear to be a very wise and astute one. Pence gave his acceptance speech in prime TV viewing time and he must have impressed the Nation’s viewers with his personality, and his manner, as well as with his words and record. His introduction of his family was touching in its simplicity and humility.

Unfortunately, his example was not followed by Trump in his acceptance speech. Trump prides himself on being a businessman but he should consider what kind of product he presented to the Nation during the Republican convention. Many of the speakers exuding a mixture of arrogance and rancor. Can anyone in the country not be aware of Hillary Clinton’s failures as Secretary of State, or her “carelessness” in using her emails? Her approval rating is incredibly low. Why continually beat this dead horse when Trump could have presented a better vision for America on Thursday?

Here is an example of transcendence that Trump could have used, with appropriate attribution, from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. The end of the terrible Civil War was only months away, and Lincoln would be assassinated shortly after giving his speech but his words should live forever.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


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