That’s a wrap. The most unpredictable and newsy political convention in at least four decades is in the books. Donald Trump’s speech dominated the night, of course, but there was plenty of other fodder, too.
My take on the best and the worst from the night that was is below.
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– Ivanka Trump: Everyone — including me — expected Ivanka to be good. After all, she’s spent most of her life in the spotlight and shown, time and again, that she is entirely comfortable there. But, even with those lofty expectations, Ivanka soared past them in her speech introducing her father.
She was poised. She was confident. And, most of all, she was on message. Ivanka spent the bulk of her speech rebutting the idea that her father has a woman problem. She touted his “gender neutral” approach to hiring. She told stories of how he encouraged her, as a young girl, to think big. She recalled how he would send her sketches of buildings and tell her he couldn’t wait until she would be building them alongside him.
And, Ivanka did it all without savaging Hillary Clinton or Democrats. She simply painted an alternative — and far more appealing — picture of a man who everyone already thought they knew. Ivanka’s speech was a home run — and, without question, the best speech of the convention.
– Donald Trump: The Republican nominee gave the crowd what it was looking for — a command performance of the tough-talking, details-free approach that won him the nomination in the first place. He promised to wipe out crime as soon as he took office. He promised to defeat ISIS “fast.” He promised a whole lot things. What he didn’t do was provide any meaningful specifics about how he might do it.
The crowd in the room was with him for the whole address — cheering in the right moments, booing when it was required. Trump, too, seemed relatively dialed in — staying, generally, on the TelePrompTer and hitting his applause lines well. The speech itself was well crafted — if WAY too long. (It clocked in at almost 80 minutes.)
What I don’t know, to be honest, is how Trump’s volume — he yelled almost the entire thing — and, more importantly, the deeply grim picture he painted of the state of the country will play beyond the convention hall. Trump’s vision of America is deeply dystopian and dark. The America he painted in his speech is badly broken and he is the only one who knows how to fix it.
That grim vision, when combined with the anger in Trump’s voice, made for a decidedly unconventional acceptance speech — no real surprise given who Trump is and how he won the GOP nomination.
On the whole, the speech — I think — did Trump more good than harm, particularly at a convention in which his message had repeatedly been muddled by self-inflicted errors. But, is Trump’s America a portrait that undecided voters recognize? And do they believe that he is the only one who can truly fix it?
– Heavenly Joy : That 6 year old little girl can REALLY sing. Awesome.
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– Paul Manafort: Before the clock struck 9 p.m. on the East Coast, Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, had stuck his foot in his mouth not once but twice. First, Manafort suggested that Trump would win over women voters because “any women feel they can’t afford their lives. Their husbands can’t afford to pay for the family bills.” Er. Then Manafort suggested that he didn’t trust the FBI numbers on crime dropping in the country because of the way they handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Double er. Manafort’s job — especially on a night like this one — is to keep the focus on his boss, not distract with politically incorrect comments that create their own tempests in a teapot. He failed at that. Twice.
– Mary Fallin: The Oklahoma governor never seemed to capture the crowd. Watching on TV, you could hear the chatter on the convention floor even as she delivered her speech. For someone widely discussed as a potential national candidate down the road, Fallin didn’t show much that would recommend her to activists looking for rising stars in the party.
– The Republican autopsy: Formally known as the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” the GOP autopsy was a remarkable document. Commissioned in the wake of the 2012 presidential election, it offered a frank assessment of the problems facing Republicans — and offered solutions to them. At the heart of that report was the need to find a way to be for immigration reform or run the risk of the party becoming too dependent on a shrinking pool of voters to win. RNC chair Reince Priebus led that effort. But, on Thursday night, Priebus fully embraced Trumpism, a philosophy that runs directly counter to the autopsy report in virtually every way.
– Tom Barrack: The near-billionaire and friend of Trump was put on the verge of prime time to introduce Ivanka Trump who, in turn, would introduce The Donald. Barrack’s goal seemed to be to string a series of anecdotes together to tell the crowd about the Donald Trump he knows. But, the anecdotes sort of all slurred into one big anecdote about a lion, a gazelle, a jeweler and a diamond necklace. And, no, I am not making that up.