Some Observations about the RNC, Days 1-2


Even before the convention began, more than 100 women posed nude for an “art installation” called “Everything She Says Means Everything.” Here is how an Esquire story on this protest opened: “As the sun rises Sunday morning over the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, 100 women stand completely nude, holding large, round mirrors facing the arena. They’re on an empty lot in between a fire station and a shipping warehouse, right on the Cuyahoga River. It’s the day before the Republican National Convention kicks off, but on this side of the river, it’s nearly silent, except for the snaps and pops of a camera. Artist Spencer Tunick stands on a ladder holding the camera focused on the women, wiping sweat off his brow. He shouts, ‘We love you all! This is beautiful.’” as he takes photos for his “art installation.” []

A second “art installation” has involved the repurposing of a Trump campaign bus used during the Iowa primary and then sold to two guys who used it to host “rolling” bachelor parties, outfitting it with such things as a fully stocked bar and a stripper pole. When those entrepreneurs posted an ad on Craigslist to re-sell the bus, artists Mary Mihelic and David Gleeson purchased it and repainted it to resemble an actual Trump campaign bus–but with many, sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant alterations. For instance, the slogan “Make American Great Again” is presented in Arabic as well as English, and much of the interior is wallpapered with diplomas from Trump University. The bus is in Cleveland but seems, largely, to have blended into the background. []

Governor John Kasich of Ohio has been the most notable and most publicly criticized Republicans to pass on attending the convention. But of the more deadpan rationales for being unable to attend the event has been provided by Larry Hogan, the popular Republican governor of Maryland, who explained that he had previously committed to attending the Tawes Crab Feast and Clam Bake. []

On the first night, the theme was “Make America Safe Again.” National-security expert Scott Baio got a prime-time slot. Joni Ernst did not. In fact, Ernst delivered what should have been the climactic final speech of the first night after all but about 2,500 of the delegates had left the arena. Although Ernst is still more well-known for her expertise in castrating hogs than for her expertise on national-security issues, I am fairly certain that she had more to say on the topic than Scott Baio. But I switched to The Daily Show as she was coming to the podium.

Also on the first night, the “Great Uniter” Rudy Giuliani blurred the distinctions between anaphora and stammering when he asked rhetorically “What happened to—what happened to—what happened to  there is no Black America, no White America , there is just America?! What happened to it? Where did it go? Did it just float away?” Putting aside the fact that despite his generally acknowledged accomplishments as mayor, Giuliani was consistently criticized for being insensitive on all sorts of issues of race, he then went on to suggest that Hillary Clinton is unfit to serve because of Benghazi, conveniently forgetting that despite the great resolve that he displayed after the 9-11 attacks, he was criticized for all sorts of things that may have contributed to the scope of that calamity—from the decidedly not-state-of-the-art communications equipment supplied to first responders and the unfortunate location of the city’s crisis-management center to the unfounded, repeated assurances that those searching through the rubble were not being exposed to hazardous materials in the inescapable dust. Hindsight is, of course, 20-20, but if Giuliani has been given the benefit of that truism, why shouldn’t it be extended to Hillary Clinton as well—in the convention rhetoric as it was in the reports by eight investigations into Benghazi?

The ostensible theme of the second night was “make America Work Again.” If there were economic proposals put forward, they were lost in Chris Christie’s repeatedly asking the delegates to pronounce Hillary Clinton “GUILTY!” Although Christie came to prominence as a federal prosecutor, it did not seem to bother him that Hillary Clinton has never been indicted for any crime or even any misdemeanor for which she could be found guilty. Likewise, given the still unresolved legal issues surrounding Bridgegate and the Port Authority, Christie seemed an odd choice to be whipping up such a chant. But, I suppose that if Ben Carson is correct that Hillary Clinton is in cahoots with Lucifer, then some of the usual constitutional guarantees ought to be waived.


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