Republicans in Convention

Republicans in Convention

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Conventions are never really wonderful or exciting. There are moments of memorable oratory but mostly there are absurd presentations. Bill Clinton gave a keynote address which droned on for an hour; George McGovern was nominated at 2 in the morning; Ronald Reagan gave Gerald Ford the scare of his life when he almost knocked off a sitting—albeit un-elected—President; and Sarah Palin induced more WHAT’s than ever from truly stunned delegates. For the fans assembled it is a pep  rally before the serious election but for most Americans—even the beltway fanatics—it is about looking for mistakes and maybe future rising stars (read Barack Obama).

So far from Cleveland the story that has landed with the most thump has been Melania’s borrowing from of Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. What was on the whole a very strong and impressive presentation from someone for whom this type of speaking is not standard fare got wiped out by the charges of plagiarism. What occurred, which is most typical of the Trump campaign and symptomatic of Donald Trump style, was the campaign’s overall response to the intentional or inadvertent plagiarism; something which could have been dismissed within hours by a simple “whoops—sorry.” That is not part of Trumps lexicon. Trump makes no mistakes—not does Melania. So instead the drum beat continues, Trump’s minions scream foul, and the speech is not even discussed. (His own speech on Thursday night had better be grand-slam homerun.)

Today the RNC shut down their live YouTube stream’s comments section of the Convention, after anti-Semitic comments and slurs were ringing through, especially after the former Jewish Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, was personally attacked. Unlike Trump’s unwillingness to recognize the anti-Semitic nature of the campaign’s anti-Hillary ad and to apologize for the mistake; the RNC recognizes that it cannot condone or blink when blatant anti-Semitism is being expressed presumably by Trump supporters. Reince Priebus and the Committee know that permitting Jews to be attacked can have devastating consequences for Trump’s candidacy, the entire election cycle, and the Party; in terms of votes in key states as well as in financial support.

The parade of Trump family members continues nightly for the balance of the convention. In light of all flaps about anti-Semitism, it will be interesting to watch if Ivanka reflects on the situation in her remarks on Thursday night or whether she will merely continue to reiterate that her father is not an anti-Semite.

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