GOP convention descended into deception, delusion, and detesting

If Trump addressing GOP delegates from a giant screen reminds you of Big Brother, that's not an accident. He's all about TV presence, not policy.

If Trump addressing GOP delegates from a giant screen reminds you of Big Brother, that’s not an accident. He’s all about TV presence, not policy.

The party of Lincoln has become the party of lying.

We’ve now heard all of the speeches and hateful rhetoric from the Republican National Convention, including the acceptance speech from Hair Hitler himself. The Orange Menace is trying to establish himself as a national savior. We heard enough over four days to solidify the image of a political party bereft of ideas and bent on nothing but fear and hate.

The purpose of the four-day Trump-a-ganza was not to win over independent voters. It was to drive the red-meat stalwarts into a frenzy and try to further lower the approval ratings for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton—the 2016 equivalent of Swift-boating. On the first count, it succeeded, at least among the faithful Trumpeters—on the second, well, we’ll have to wait for new polls. On the purpose of gaining new support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump? Probably not so much.

But hate? Hate against Hillary spewed forth like vomit at a fraternity kegger. No lie was too brazen, no insult too demeaning. No doubt fact checkers across America fainted from exhaustion (the Clinton campaign compiled a list of 67 lies debunked by independent fact checkers in just the first two days of the Trump-fest).

Consider:

  • America was treated to a three-fer spreading often-disproven lies about the 2012 Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans. The first example came in milking the grief of a mother who lost a son; the other two were trying to boost books sales, so it’s not even worth listing their names. And they weren’t the only ones.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, reminding at least some in the TV audience of Fearless Leader from Rocky and Bullwinkle, hit hard against his usual suspects, those committing “Islamic extremist terrorism,” and it’s all Hillary Clinton’s fault. Mr. Noun-Verb-9/11 once said Clinton could be considered a “founding member of ISIS.” With a raised voice, fists pumping in the air, and sometimes with arms flailing, he had the crowd roaring with his repeated attacks. He ended his speech with “You know who you are, and we are coming to get you.” He’s only going back to Fox News.
  • New Jersey governor and Trump errand boy Chris Christie relished his dual roles as prosecutor and judge during his speech, delivering a fire-and-brimstone call and response to delegates in which every screamed answer to Hillary Clinton’s supposed misdeeds was “GUILTY!” or “LOCK HER UP!” (Enjoy your moment now, governor—you’ll be unemployed soon enough because of term limits, and you face your own possible indictment over the ongoing Bridgegate scandal.) Of course, now we know the real reason for Christie’s subserviance: With Trump’s fundraising help, New Jersey Republicans are now paying Christie’s legal fees for Bridgegate.
  • New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, an adviser to Trump on veterans affairs, says that Hillary Clinton deserves to be “shot for treason” over Benghazi. (He didn’t offer any opinions on the need for executions of members of past administrations, all of which have overseen terrorist deaths of hundreds of U.S. officials and citizens on their watch.) The Trump campaign was finally forced to admit that they didn’t agree with the call for Clinton’s execution, although I’m sure that statement was given with a wink. Oh, and Bardasaro is now being investigated by the Secret Service.

This barely scratches the surface of hate week. And it comes on top of the GOP passage of what The New York Times called the most extreme platform in the party’s history. That Neanderthal-like document includes:

  • No exceptions for rape or women’s health in cases of abortion.
  • Requirements that the Bible be taught in public high schools.
  • The “fact” that coal is a “clean” energy source.
  • The return of federal lands to the states, including national parks and wildlife areas.
  • The call for legislators to use religion as a guide in lawmaking. But only Christianity, of course.
  • The appointment of “family values” judges.
  • The barring of female soldiers from combat.
  • Rejections of the need for stronger gun controls.
  • The denial of basic civil rights to LGBTQ people.

Speaker after speaker at the GOP convention ignored their own nominee and focused on bashing Clinton. What were they going to say about Trump? With the exception of Trump family members, they don’t like him. They have few policies from Trump to tout beyond the generic “Make America (blank) again.” The Trump website has sparsely worded and poorly explained positions on only seven issues, versus detailed plans on 37 issues on Clinton’s website.

Of course, speeches by Trump’s former rivals for the GOP nomination also barely mentioned him, as those speakers were setting themselves up for a possible 2020 presidential bid against an incumbent President Clinton. And the Trump people themselves were too wrapped up in an amateur-hour plagiarism scandal involving Melania Trump that ate up two days of the news cycle. By the third day, instead of headlines about vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, headlines focused on the non-endorsement of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and the Trump campaign’s childish response.

The hate-Hillary messages have reached new heights, or, should we say, lows. Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (who pointedly has refused to endorse Trump) says the over-the-top calls for Clinton to go to prison “jumped the shark.” While Republicans have trumpeted messages of hate for decades, this election season, the violent rhetoric has become abhorrent.

All the talk of sending the opponent to prison “seemed like a new crossing of a line and an ugly degradation of a norm in American politics,” said a piece on Vox.

Having this sentiment bubble up from the base, or from a shady hit group, is quite different from spotlighting it on the stage of a party’s national convention.

It’s the latest sign that in the age of Donald Trump, the GOP’s elite gatekeepers are gone. The Republican grassroots strongly believes Hillary Clinton is an evil lying criminal who should be locked up.

And with Trump in charge — a man who has no shame whatsoever and is willing to viciously insult anyone who gets in his way — that’s essentially become the official position of the Republican Party.

So how is the message of hate being received outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland? Considering that TV ratings for this convention are lower than they were for the 2012 GOP convention (perhaps an empty chair is needed?) and for earlier GOP debates, maybe the average American has gotten tired of all of the vitriol. Instead, higher TV ratings went to America’s Got Talent—unlike the speakers addressing delegates, who don’t.

And speaking of a lack of talent, how about Mike Pence, who accepted the offer from The Donald instead of facing a probable losing re-election bid as Indiana governor? Remember, the Trumpster and his surrogates have said that Trump would be in charge of “making America great again” while leaving all foreign and domestic policy to the vice president, according to a report in The New York Times. Who thinks Mike Pence is up to that job? Who’s willing to give him that responsibility? Before Pence dropped out of the Indiana governor’s race, it didn’t even seem like the people of Indiana were willing to give him another term. Remember, this is the guy who wrote an op-ed that said “Smoking doesn’t kill” and who cited the Disney movie Mulan as proof that women don’t belong in military combat. He gave a competent boilerplate conservative speech, but a towering intellect he is not.

So the Trump vanity project known as the GOP National Convention is over. We can now look forward to four days in Philadelphia where we’ll hear some actual facts and proposals from Democrats on how to fix the country’s problems, instead of turning it over to an Orange Menace.

Originally posted on Daily Kos on July 24, 2016.

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