The lowest point of the show was the yanking of an infirm Bob Dole out of his chair so he could wave, after a speaker pointed him out to the crowd. Blame bad camerawork, or direction, but Mr. Dole, a genuine American hero, deserved more dignity and respect than to be treated as a prop in a semi-degrading manner.
Rudy Giuliani, the first night headliner, made one wonder if America’s Mayor has lost his savoir-faire. His Honor spluttered through a mad cheerleader routine that jumped and tumbled as much as it rambled. Blame too much coffee, or not, but it was a far different Giuliani than we are accustomed to seeing and hearing. He carnival barked his way through a sweaty, meaningless, tangle of words. It was more the pity because he used to be great.
There was a heavy emphasis on Benghazi, including an unnecessarily long bullet-by-bullet, recounting of the events of that tragic night by two of the men who defended the embassy siege. Spouses and parents of fallen soldiers, as well as victims of crime perpetrated by illegal immigrants, were better spoken and more to the point than these two speakers, who lost the audience long before they went off script.
The musical cues were awkward, too, as was the recycling of Freddy Mercury’s overplayed, to the point of triteness, “We are the Champions of the World.” If Mercury, who was gay, were still alive, you can bet that song wouldn’t have made the RNC’s playlist.
Opening night was fear laden, in a Joe McCarthy kind of way. There were varying degrees of passion at the microphone, but it didn’t seem to translate to the audience. It seemed tepid, at best, much of the time. Conventions are supposed to be uplifting affairs that fire up the on-site crowd and the home viewers, as well. The in-house lethargy was glaringly obvious when, time after time, speakers tried to lead chants of USA and were joined by few voices and, sometimes, complete indifference. When even the live audience seems bored, something has gone awry with the show.
Tomorrow looks better with Republican heavyweights, some with star quality, appearing before the cameras. The convention can look forward to a Chris Christie speech, in particular. Whatever his faults, Mr. Christie is capable of putting on a good show.
The major takeaway of the night was how connective Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania can be ignoring reports she plagiarized her speech from Michelle Obama in 2008. She is needed, certainly, on the campaign trail this fall. The other takeaway is that the Republicans failed to make their case that we’re fundamentally unsafe at home, or away, even despite recent troubling domestic and foreign events. This failure was painfully evident when one speaker was so hyperbolic in his remarks that he raised the spectre, of “weapons of mass destruction” in our cities.
The Republicans, too, may rue their insistence on running against President Obama. He just might have been mentioned, from the podium, more than Hillary. Mr. Obama enjoys, currently, among the highest approval ratings of his presidency. It is, also, more likely than not, to anyone who’s half conscious that we are not falling off the cliff, just yet, but there’s still more of the convention to come.
Michael Malak is an attorney, writer and photographer who resides in California