With everything that could’ve gone wrong, Cleveland was a heckuva week for T. The media were in full no-more-nice-guy mood, street-lefties were ready to rumble and the cops were antsy, ready for some serious headcracking. But here we are at week-end with the party in reasonably good shape and T’s ticket running even with the dowager empress and her faux-Catholic veep.
All of us liked Cleveland better than T, frankly. For the political world, it was National Speechwriter Week, the ultimate spinners’ reunion. T gets all bent out of shape whenever the spotlight wanders away.
First, there was the Melania swipe. Anybody who’s ever written a speech knows how it happened. The Obama sentences were inserted as a placeholder and nobody remembered to clean them up later. The media tried to play it as the Heist of the Century, but stuff happens and even Lyin’ Brian knew it was two-bit stuff. As a sometime speechwriter myself, I wondered why anybody would lay claim to that pile of leaden clichés. Godawful speech. It’s probably illegal to say this in most Eastern states, but no straight male cares what Melania’s saying, anyway.
Then there was Ted the Magician, who against impossible odds managed to piss off everybody in the hall. Amazing, when you consider that several thousand of them had already voted for him. The man has the largest tin ear in American politics, has to schlep it around in a wheelbarrow. (But for Ted the Magician’s closing burst, Kasich as the absent, boorish host would have coasted to victory as Horse’s Ass of the Year.) You remember the cliché of a year ago, that the GOP had a historically large and rarely talented field of candidates? Large, okay. But remind me, who were the rarely talented candidates?
I feel sorry for Mike Pence and maybe not for the last time. He gives the speech of his life. It’s damn-near perfect. (That McConnell can still spin some yarn, can’t he?) And what happens? Ted the Magician pees on his shoes and everybody forgets Pence. And maybe not for the last time. At least Pence now has a stump speech ready for primetime in Altoona, Pocatello, and Muscatine.
Then there were the Trump kids and especially that long draught of vodka, Ivanka. She’s a great act, isn’t she? Poised, charming, apolitical and thoroughly Trumpish. Within twelve hours, she’s hawking her stunning sheath-dress at $150 a copy. The Trump kids were brought up to believe that it’s a terrible thing to waste a TV audience of thirty million consumers.
Thursday night — Big Finish! — T himself takes the stage. If the venue had been outdoors we would have done a flyby with F-15s, upside down as they passed the stadium. Inside the Q, we tried to go with drones but security wasn’t happy — some insurance problem with the possibility that delegates could be decapitated. Fuss, fuss, fuss. So we scaled back to forty-foot swaths of gold and gilt letters flashing the brand name. A little touch of home to make T feel comfortable.
No doubt about it, T’s a presence. Other than Russell Crowe and maybe Hugh Jackman, who can walk to a podium through billowing smoke? Fantastic. But T’s speech was too long and too angry and too richly composted. (Elliott seems to have a lost a few miles off the old fastball, hasn’t he?) But if the folks out there wanted a collector’s album of T’s greatest hits, they got it — trade, immigration, cops, vets, walls, deals, the whole quesadilla.
Saturday, the dowager empress tried to step on our convention by rushing out her VP pick, Tim Kaine. Are you kidding me? Tim Kaine? He should have driven up to the podium in a Prius. He’s the kind of Catholic who tells you how devout he is while rejecting any Church tenets that might apply to him. The kind of Southerner who tells his constituents he’s with them on everything but their regional values. The kind of senator who has always taken the road most travelled. The kind of career politician who couldn’t leave a footprint in wet sand. Tim Kaine? Thanks, Your Highness, we’ll take him.
I’m being shipped out tomorrow to California. Our pollster — the new one, the tall guy — says it’s in play. Or maybe I’m just being shipped out. Whatever, this diary may go untended for a while. Talk among yourselves.