Skip to main content

oh cleveland, what have ye wrought?

four days. i watched it every day for four straight days. i even watched most of the opening acts, although i'll admit that i dodged out to watch commentary some of the time, because i started to feel like i was in some fact-proof box and needed to know that there were other people who were just a bit more like me in the world. but i think i probably watched more of the republican national convention than most people who are members of the republican party, and that includes some of the people at the convention, who were apparently just in town for some hot, forbidden gay sex.

i delayed a day in posting my reaction to see if allowing what i'd seen to sink in would result in it making any more sense, to no avail. from the wussiest rebellion in history at the very opening of the convention [technically before the opening] to the pornographic exploitation of a mother's grief at her son's death in benghazi to melania trump's speech plagiarized from michelle obama of all people to donald trump junior's much-praised speech to ben carson linking hillary clinton to lucifer to mike pence's dull but grounded acceptance to ivanka trump's glowing, delusional introduction to the man himself reading a prepared speech that had been leaked hours earlier... it was special in so many ways.

my hands are aching from trying to tweet all the snide quips that crossed my mind, because for cynical bitches like me, this was four days of gold. even the many debates that we've had didn't have quite that level of "wtf" happening. there's really not a lot in the way of comprehensive analysis i can provide, because the event itself was nearly incomprehensible. in that way, it is much like the candidate himself- bluster and anger and talking points without a real narrative or any important details. throughout his shocking campaign, trump has existed solely in the moment, a continuous present tense where he seems confused when people care about statements he's made in the past. never was that more evident than in the pre-convention interview that trump and his newly minted running mate mike pence gave to 60 minutes. for every point that leslie stahl was able to bring up where pence's views [and there are a lot] differed from trump's. trump talked around the differences, told pence he was "allowed" to have different views or flat out said "i don't care", with an expression that seemed bewildered as to why stahl would even think it could be important.

so, unable to pull any thread of sense from the lint ball that was the convention, i thought i'd just take a quick look at the winners and losers coming out of the convention, those who go forward with a spring in their step and those whose next steps are likely to be pretty painful.

winners ::

john kasich :: the man who was a model of class throughout the hard-fought republican campaign and the unlikely last man standing against donald trump, declined to even attend the convention in his home state, much less endorse the candidate. where almost all others folded to pressure and came on board, kasich simply said that he wasn't interested, despite being a republican and opposed to hillary clinton. most touching of all was his assertion that he simply could not have explained to his daughters how he could back a man who has said such horrid things about women. rumour has it that he was offered the v.p. spot on trump's ticket, with the promise that he'd be the most powerful vice president in history, but the man who consistently polled best against clinton both nationwide and in key swing states told the campaign he wasn't interested. there is no reason to think kasich won't be back and when that moment comes, he's likely to poll even better among "soft" democrats.

invanka trump :: although everyone was falling all over themselves to praise her brother donald jr's speech two days before, the eldest trump daughter really stole the show with her natural flow, poise and political but not political demeanour. yes, it could be and was said that she sounded like she'd wandered into the wrong convention, or that she'd had a stroke during her recent childbirth that left her with amnesia, but, while the amazing person she spoke about was clearly nowhere to be found, ivanka herself was flawless. not even her father's inappropriately roaming hands could rattle her composure. the donald floated the idea that she could be his running mate or even the president one day. all of a sudden, that doesn't seem like a half-bad idea.

donald trump :: despite the media's attempts to play up the insurrection, the "stop trump" movement fizzled before things even got properly started. for all the weirdness and flubs and cringeworthy moments, the convention was pure trump. you felt like there was a trap door under every speaker, and that trump could simply clap his hands and the person on stage would be dropped into a pool of sharks. more importantly, trump managed to paper over some of the most controversial aspects of the party's official policies, especially its retrenched opposition to lgbtq rights. in the most spontaneous and human moment of his big speech, trump thanked the audience and expressed his gratification when they applauded his statements in favour of the community. for lack of a better expression, trump trumped his own party.

ted cruz :: in the future, when pundits reflect on this convention, one of the most perplexing questions will be how the podium so effectively hid ted cruz's giant balls. forget those who make much of his being booed off the stage, or that he and his family basically had to retreat under armed guard from the premises. the media are short-sighted when they see his gamble as a career-killer, because they are falling into the trump trap of evaluating things only in the moment. the focus on the fury that cruz unleashed by refusing to endorse trump misses the fact that it was possibly the best speech of the entire convention, and many republicans are going to regret the fact that they have no one of his oratory skill to take on the road in the upcoming campaign. [even more so since hillary clinton has chosen a catholic, spanish-speaking running mate, who could play well in the southwest and force the gop to spend more resources shoring up arizona, nevada and new mexico.] in a convention that saw a parade of police officers disparaging the black lives matter movement, cruz praised the family of alton sterling for calling for peace. hate him all you want, but it took a lot of guts to do what cruz did. the trump experiment will implode at some point, even if the man wins the election in november, and when it does, cruz and kasich are going to look like the second coming of gop christ. conservative columnist and former advisor and speechwriter to george w. bush, david frum put it best when he tweeted, "ten years from now, everyone who was at this convention who is still alive will claim that they applauded ted cruz".

losers ::

hillary clinton :: if it weren't for donald trump, the former first lady and secretary of state would have the highest unfavourability ratings of any presidential candidate in history. and boy, do republicans ever know that. it's very possible that clinton's name was mentioned more often than trump's over the course of the convention, so often that it sometimes felt like the election was a referendum on her rather than a battle of party ideas. yes, the criticisms were wildly exaggerated, outright wrong, or just crazy [looking at you, dr. carson], but there's no question that, with that much repetition, people are going to remember these things and some of that shit will stick.

melania trump :: the woman deserved better. even if she said that she really admired michelle obama's sentiments and speeches, there was no reason for the speechwriters to copy the first lady's words so obviously other than sheer spite. written off as a bimbo trophy bride, melania has been with the donald for nearly twenty years, and he is not a man to tarry if he has lost interest, so it seems like she must have something on the ball. she did not sign on for this and, with all the adult trump children more than capable on their feet, it's arguable that the introverted melania didn't need to give the customary "first lady in waiting" speech. trump's campaign has been about doing things differently, after all. instead, her speech became an embarrassment, a sad distraction and fodder for scornful liberal onlookers like me.

tiffany trump :: the youngest trump to speak, tiffany clearly didn't have the gravitas of her older siblings, but she did have a sort of sweetness and innocence that comes from a life of privilege and complete shelter. she seemed like a very nice person who just hasn't quite realised that life isn't so wonderful for everyone. but mostly, she seemed like a young woman desperate for her father's love and attention. her wistful memories of how well he treated her rested on things like his being the first person to call her when a close member of her family died. she didn't even seem to be aware of the line she'd drawn between her father and her family. all of her anecdotes were similar: the incredible parenting skills of the nearly completely absent father, who hadn't even bothered to stay for her speech. at the end of the convention, trump thanked and praised all his family except her for their participation. poor little rich girl.

marco rubio :: the one-time heir to the republican throne clashed openly with trump throughout the nomination process and admitted it was getting hard to continue saying he would support the republican nominee no matter what. oh, how times have changed. now more of an icarus figure, rubio was humiliated by being given the task of introducing ted cruz, the man who, as much as trump, was responsible for his crash back to earth. speaking on screen from what looked like a closet in which he was being held hostage, rubio looked a shadow of his former self, all the optimism and positivity beaten out of him as he surrendered to the inevitability of trump. rubio was once the candidate democrats most feared. now they have to be wondering if they don't have a halfway decent shot of taking his senate seat away.

the republican party :: as he pulled himself together to give the rousing speech the highest-ranking man in the party is supposed to give, former vice presidential candidate paul ryan looked vaguely like he was trying to blink sos signals to the audience. help me. no one understands better than he the troubled relationship that the party has with their chosen candidate, as was evidenced by his own equivocation on endorsement. in the end, ryan barely mentioned the candidate and remained anonymous for the rest of the week, probably downing whiskey and wallowing in self-pity when thinking about the candidate who's leading them into battle. whatever the result of the election, whatever happens during the upcoming months, make no mistake: the republican party has lost and may very well never recover. they've spent eight years of stoking the worst sentiments in their voters, shutting down the government on dubious matters of principle, refusing to compromise in order to get work done, indulging then observer-donald's deranged fantasy of barack obama being foreign-born, parroting the talking points of the national rifle association in opposition to the will of most americans, wasting countless hours on an obsessive campaign to get even the meagre offerings of the affordable care act clawed back from the poor and needy. and now all the poison seeds they sowed have blossomed. the gop has made its bed and now it must sleep in it. with donald trump.

americans :: the greatest harm that a candidate as boorish and shallow as trump does is not to latinos, or women, or refugees, or muslims or any of the groups that he purports to hate, but to political discourse itself. it is already exceedingly difficult to get anything other than talking points about the story of the day during an election, but trump's ignorant bluster dumbs things down a little more. i am glad to see that he is making issues of trade deals like the tpp and the need to scale back u.s. military interventions, but even on those, his position is hard to pin down. he wants to get out of the regime change business, but he wants to build up the military, destroy isis wherever they are and put troops back in iraq. on the trade deals, he says that they are job killers and that they've destroyed american manufacturing. but he's taken advantage of them himself and still says that he will tear up these sweeping deals in favour of one-on-one deals with each country, a plan that will create greater bureaucracy and will make america less desirable as a trading partner or a business base for multinationals, who are really the force behind these trade deals to begin with. but the worst part is that he understands little about these issues, aside from his media lines and has shown no inclination to learn more. americans deserve to have an election with serious debates about foreign military intervention, globalisation versus the domestic economy, how to reduce the vastly unequal distribution of wealth within the country, improving the educational system, the medical system, the welfare system and they never seem to get it. this time, they'll get it even less. trump isn't going to debate anyone based on facts and policies and the media is by and large going to let him get away with that. it's a sad state of affairs.

that's my take, for what it's worth. i could add myself among the losers, because i just lost days of potentially productive time rage-watching something whose outcome was never in doubt. but that's who i am. a mentally masochistic sad sack who wants to believe the best, but giddily embraces the worst. now onward to the democrats...

p.s. :: the photos used here are from the ghetto america blog, a look at the grimier side of the american urban experience. 

Comments

"the greatest harm that a candidate as boorish and shallow as trump does is not to latinos, or women, or refugees, or muslims or any of the groups that he purports to hate, but to political discourse itself."
This may seem petty, but I've got to quibble with this. Certainly political discourse is being harmed, but Trump's rhetoric has real consequences for anyone who isn't a white Christian or atheist man, especially now that he has a real chance of becoming president. He's not just ~hurting the feelings~ of these groups, he's whipping his supporters into a frenzy by ceaselessly repeating stereotypes about them and running for office on policies that violate their rights. He got the votes of about 56% of delegates at the convention (sources: http://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/delegate-count-tracker; https://ballotpedia.org/Republican_National_Convention,_2016), which means that more than half of Republican primary voters, and who knows how many previously undecided people, now want to enact draconian immigration policies and ban people from the country based on their metaphysical beliefs. This isn't just about some theoretical ideal of civility--from what I can see, he and his followers represent a real potential threat to the wellbeing of a lot of people.
And yes, it was refreshing to hear a Republican pledge support for the LGBTQ community. But Trump's plan for doing so is a stew of xenophobia and misinformation. He promised to protect LGBTQ people from "a hateful foreign ideology" (source:http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/full-transcript-donald-trump-nomination-acceptance-speech-at-rnc-225974)--conveniently ignoring the homegrown homophobia in his own party's platform and in the record of his running mate. Now, it's true that ISIS's positions are horribly regressive and homophobic. And there are plenty of homophobic Muslims walking around. But Trump's idea that if we persecute Muslim immigrants enough, we'll somehow get rid of homophobia is nonsense. And it scares me that anyone is taking this hypocritical claptrap seriously.
I'm sorry if this sounded angry. I do really like your blog. I'm just frightened and worried about what my country's doing to itself.

Popular posts from this blog

so hip it hurts

there aren't too many artists who stand out as being iconically canadian. it's too easy to mistake us for some other people, mostly americans, who are, let's be honest, pretty similar in a lot of ways. [this is the bit where i apologise for avril lavigne, justin bieber and drake.] the guess who/ bachman turner overdrive held sway over an earlier generation, and musicians and those who appreciate technical proficiency will speak of rush like they are gods, but last night the country said goodbye to perhaps the most canadian of canadian bands, the tragically hip.

for those of you not familiar with that name, the hip emerged in the mid-to-late eighties, among a slew of canadian bands [54-40, the northern pikes, the pursuit of happiness, the grapes of wrath] that balanced on the line between mainstream and alternative rock. all of them played accessible guitar-based music with none of the bombast of seventies dinosaurs, but equally with no hint of the drug-fueled anger that w…

shut up

general reaction seems to be that last night's vice presidential debate was close to a draw, with a slight edge going to mike pence [other than among cnn's panel of independent voters, who overwhelmingly chose tim kaine as the winner]. i feel that's an accurate assessment, although it's largely a question of personal preference. pence absolutely projected the stoic, unflappable, unwavering image that many americans [not just republicans, either] seem to like and equate with strength. for my part, i prefer someone who's a little more mercurial, someone who's able to gets excited about ideas and who's able to expand on them, not just repeat talking points.

so, from my point of view, both vice presidential candidates were pretty disappointing. i found that kaine had a fantastic command of facts and history- he knew pence's voting record better than pence knew his and possibly better than pence knew his own. his opening answers were so smoothly delivered i…

mental health mondays :: parabnormal?

for north america and parts of europe, halloween marked the apex of spooky events, where the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its most diaphanous. but if you're a very traditional roman catholic, you'll know that the 31 of october is merely the beginning, and that the entire month that follows is dedicated to remembering and praying for the dead, specifically for those whose souls are trapped in purgatory. if you listen to dante, purgatory isn't especially pleasant. sure, there's the possibility that you'll end up working off your debt to celestial society, but until then, you get to endure things like having your goddamned eyes sewn shut with iron wire. [much like condo developments, it gets better the higher the floor you live on.]

however, the more common view of purgatory among catholics is that the souls relegated there can't do anything to help themselves, and are reliant on the prayers of their living relatives and loved ones to …