Before a crowd of nearly a thousand attendees on the White House South Lawn, an unusual Republican National Convention came to a close.
Speakers had been scattered about the eastern seaboard or were often contributing through pre-recorded videos, and although the content was largely predictable – law and order in the face of anarchy driven by the radical left, support for the military and renewed American exceptionalism – the tone of a partly virtual, partly live event struggled to achieve consistency, no great surprise given the broad pandemic context at large.
Without doubt, however, the convention appealed to President Trump’s dedicated and ardent core base, but whether it was effective enough to secure the votes of disillusioned Republicans and undecided moderates is as yet unclear.
Who among the host of speakers stood out, and who is better to forget?
Here’s what we think.
For Nikki Haley, this election isn’t just about partisan victory. It’s about standing up for the United States in a time where the nation gets pushed around by powers foreign and domestic – dictators, Communist China, the Democratic left, anarchists in the streets. This country is not a racist nation, she said, but an exceptional one full of promise…so long as Trump and his administration win four more years. By painting herself as a warrior who stands up for America, Haley’s speech indicates the possibility for her own candidacy in 2024, where she’ll be able to further the progress for which she has praised Trump.
Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann got several minutes of screen-time at the convention to speak against the dangers of what is being regarded as cancel culture. “The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode,” he said, stating the media defamed him all to further their anti-Trump agenda. In the context of the president’s frequent criticism of media outlets, newspapers and journalism as a whole, Sandmann played his role – the innocent victim of the wrath of a vindictive, lie-peddling media Trump so loathes – with eloquence and confidence.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the convention from a pre-recorded clip in his home state of Kentucky. With a dull, detached tone, he rattled off a laundry list of the terrible things Democrats wish to do, from stacking the courts with liberals (much like how the Trump administration has stacked courts with conservatives) to allegedly mandating how many hamburgers citizens can eat. With no hint of irony, he accused the Democrats of telling America who Joe Biden is rather than what he’ll do, and ultimately delivered a boring and tired harangue against the opposite party that did him no favors as the challenger for his seat grows ever more favorable in the polls. A fun dinner guest he is not.
Before an empty auditorium, Trump advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle spent six minutes maniacally praising the president and painting a vision of two different Americas: that of Trump, a shining city upon a hill, and that of Biden, one where the self and the whole nation will be unrecognizable. Between claiming her parents (natural born U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico) are immigrants to her deranged anti-Democrat wails, she came across as incoherent and unhinged.
Former NFL player Jack Brewer asserted in his endorsement of Trump that America is not as divided as our politics suggest, invoking the wisdom of his eight year-old son: “Dad, can you please just tell everyone that all lives need to matter?” His speech denounced the belief that Trump is racist and hailed the Republican Party as one that empowers Black Americans rather than oppresses. Being Black himself, Brewer’s speech was a strong counter to the nationwide protests for those undecided, largely white voters disturbed by narratives of anarchy and rioting.
It’s true, Rudy Giuliani is still alive. Like a long absent uncle the family has hidden from view but then returns wild-eyed to make up for lost time, the former New York mayor ranted angrily about anything and everything that came to mind. The family are going need a stronger basement door to keep him out of circulation for the next ten weeks.
As she introduced her father before the South Lawn, Ivanka Trump gave the most impactful speech of the convention. She mollified concerns about Trump’s unfiltered rhetoric and spainted the president as a fighter for the American worker, something commonly stated by speakers through the four days, but from Ivanka it came across as convincing. By no means was she free of the hypocrisy and falsehoods strewn throughout the convention, but she appealed to those seeking rationality and conviction from the Republican Party.
People often point toward Don Jr. as the obvious political successor to their father, but Ivanka’s prominence as the convention’s penultimate speaker may suggest otherwise. She delivers the fallacies of her father’s administration with a pleasant and articulate demeanor that makes what she is saying almost believable. Rather than Eric, it may well be Ivanka who waits to inherit the metaphoric Trump throne.
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