Following a year of one wreckage after another, the Republicans are celebrating the greatness of Donald Trump in Kafkaesque fashion at their convention this week.
While it was anticipated that the four-day event would be a disinformation derby, it so far is exceeding expectations. Right off the top, young Republican Charlie Kirk put gall before all by describing Mr. Trump as “a man with reverence for the office of the presidency.”
Another lead speaker, Natalie Harp, asserted that if Democrats had been in power the past four years, Americans would all be living in an awful country “with no hope of escape except death itself.”
Typical of the mythical reality show was the President’s presiding like a soft-hearted humanitarian at a naturalization ceremony Tuesday, welcoming five new immigrants. It was the same President who instituted a Muslim ban, caged children at his southern border and has race-baiter Stephen Miller as his immigration czar.
In the attempted redo of Mr. Trump’s image, an endless parade of fumigators claimed he is a champion of women and Black people, that he’s done stellar work in combatting the coronavirus, and that he has made the United States respected throughout the world.
There were some powerful and compelling moments. The production was slicker than at the Democratic convention. But hypocrisy leaped off the screen with Republicans such as Senator Rand Paul singing the President’s praises, Mr. Paul being the same fellow who had called Mr. Trump “a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.”
All this has occasioned much mockery, most notably from Democrats. Surely, they seem to think, Americans will see through it, will see the convention for the baloney superspreader that it is.
But that is far from certain. As has been evident throughout his term, in assessing Mr. Trump a great swath of Americans leave rationalism behind. Logic goes on vacation.
Despite the avalanche of bad news, his support level, which is within striking range of victory, is holding. Some soundings indicate the race is now tightening. With this week’s propaganda blitz, it could tighten some more.
No matter that, just in the past nine months, he was impeached in the House of Representatives, he dithered in the fight against COVID-19, his economy went into a nosedive and he stoked racial division with his handling of the killing of George Floyd.
No matter that in the run-up to the convention, his niece published a damning book on him, his sister was found on tape to be calling him cruel and stupid, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested, and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin touched off more racial upheaval.
No matter that the Democrats staged a convention showcasing their candidate Joe Biden that drew flattering reviews.
Despite it all, something that can never be underestimated is Mr. Trump’s resilience. There are several signs that the convention could be a Republican springboard to a comeback.
To wit, Mr. Trump’s polling deficit in the swing states is appreciably smaller than in the country as a whole. For all the good reviews, Mr. Biden appears to have received little, if any, poll bounce such conventions usually bestow.
Also, the devastating toll of the coronavirus is easing across the country. By election day, it could have eased a good deal – although a new wave is possible given the reopening of schools. An early vaccine announcement could give Mr. Trump a boost. In tandem, the economy could pick up over the next two months.
The convention is demonizing Mr. Biden as someone who will defund the police, take away Americans’ rights to gun ownership, and is more corrupt than Mr. Trump. It’s nonsense, but some of it may stick.
Among the bright spots was the speech Tuesday by First Lady Melania Trump, who did what her husband hasn’t done by reaching out in sympathy to those afflicted by the pandemic. Unlike some other members of the Trump family, who showed partisan rage in their presentations, she struck a note of calm in saying she didn’t want to use her time in attacking the Democrats because “that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further.”
Initially it looked like this might be a convention aimed at appealing only to Mr. Trump’s base. Advisers however appear to have convinced him he has to broaden his appeal. Hence the effort to soften his image with his attempted outreach to female voters and minorities.
While duplicitous, it’s an adroit move. And another reason why this election, which given Mr. Trump’s record in office should for all intents and purposes be over, is far from it.
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