Thank God it’s Friday. Really. The convention is finally over. Now begins the long national nightmare of the campaign.
I know that some of you are probably thinking that nutjob Donald Trump is still at the podium in Cleveland wrapping up his acceptance remarks. Maybe he is. That was an excruciatingly long speech and it seemed like it would never end. (It clocked in at 75 minutes making it the longest acceptance speech ever. Is there hope he will just bore voters to death?)
I have no highlights for you. The entire affair was a discouraging bombastic exercise in self-aggrandizement. I really want to have as much fun with it as the Twitterverse does, but I’m so demoralized. Still, it did cheer me up to read some of the best tweets:
“I’ve heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn’t sound any better in Russian,” tweeted Russian chess great Garry Kasparov.
“So @medeabenjamin got into the hall and onto the floor twice? This is the party that’s going to lockdown our borders?” tweeted writer Gregg Levine.
Hilariously, Trump extended some Big Tent love to Bernie Sanders supporters. Sanders, who is handy with Twitter himself, retorts “Those who voted for me will not support Trump who has made bigotry and divisiveness the cornerstone of his campaign.”
Anyway, there are fact checkers who are going to do better than I ever could with the barrage of claims he made in his hour-and-fifteen diatribe. But what’s staying with me is how hard it is to explain Trump.
The daughter of a good friend staying over last night. She’s eight years old and very bright, loves to read, but is an expat living outside the country in Central America. I was explaining words to her like “demagogue” and “egomaniacal.” But what really struck me was when she asked what would happen if Trump became President. I was a little flummoxed because where do you even start? Does the earth split open and swallow us up whole? Do we lose all civil rights? Are we engaged in a ground war with Iran? Are people of color rounded up without regard to rights or status and taken off to prisons or just shot in the spot?
How do you explain why starting a trade war with China is a horrible idea? How do you explain that the Arab Spring had nothing to do with Obama or Clinton? How do you explain that a man up there spouting self serving platitudes and half-truths is a fraud and has been for thirty years?
This is a guy who can’t be bothered with getting details right. Look at the handling of Melania Trump’s speech. People on the Democratic and Republican sides are aghast at how slipshod the preparation was--not even basic checking seems to have taken place. But that’s typical of Trump’s shoot from the hip style. “Don’t bother me with the details. I build towers.”
To many Republicans, the lapse seemed frustratingly inevitable from a candidate who has not just eschewed the backstops of a major political campaign — he has mocked them as a waste of money. His campaign slogans, “America First” and “Make America Great Again,” echoed Pat Buchanan and Ronald Reagan. His social media graphics were crowdsourced on Twitter and Reddit by an aide who formerly managed Mr. Trump’s golf club in Westchester.
And that results in I’m-simultaneously-laughing-while-crying kinds of gaffes. Like that time that Donald Trump tweeted an inspiring photo of himself and an American flag…superimposed over a photo of Nazi Waffen-SS soldiers.
You’ve gotta ask, is his campaign really that phenomenally incompetent or is this just one big amazing piece of performance art?
Is it not pretty much this image?
If you haven’t had a chance, read the New Yorker article on Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrite The Art of the Deal. I want to excerpt the whole thing, but let’s start with this.
“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.
“Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.”
This is the self-serving charlatan who’s running for president.