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RNC 2016 RNC 2016

Hate, Fear, Division, War, Hate, Yawn … Oh, My God, Plagiarism!

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  Brian van der Brug / Contributor

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Brian van der Brug / Contributor

CLEVELAND _ If you had kept any notions of Donald Trump as a different breed of Republican, the opening night of his four-day coronation/force-choke of the NeverTrump rebellion suggested otherwise.

Endless Benghazi. Anecdotal horrors about how illegal immigrants killed a loved one. Hillary Clinton killed my son. Obama leads from behind. Apology tour. There may have been a former underwear model who thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim. And also a confusingly perky reality show couple, the male half of which is now Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Real World). But at heart this was a Republican show, just a lesser version of it, like a copy of a copy of a copy.

After the day’s drama on the convention floor, and in spite of two lone protesters–the endearingly consistent group Code Pink–who were taken away by security, nothing much surprising happened once the Republican National Convention’s official theme came into play.

Yeah, the dude from Duck Dynasty tried to be a down-home boy. Scott Baio, once of Charles in Charge, reminded us that he exists. Marcus Luttrell, the former SEAL whose Afghanistan battle was the inspiration for the film Soul Survivor, acted as if he planned to run for office someday. Benghazi-surviving Marines had a turn. The mother of a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan was one of the more strident warmongers. She appeared determined to make her son’s death have been for a purpose.

Sen. Tom Cotton, a former infantryman who fought in Iraq, sounded like he was making his 2020 stump speech. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani–whom the crowd adored–yelled and ranted and said extreme things about police and war but somehow managed to temper the awfulness with flashes of nuance that Tom Cotton lacked. Mostly because Giuliani mentioned the Libyan invasion in the wider context of a mistake and didn’t simply repeat Benghazi like a campaign slogan, and he also mentioned that cops who do wrong should be held accountable.

Rick Perry popped in. Rep. Michael McCaul went through the cliches about Obama–leading from behind, apology tour, all of that sort of thing. Sheriff David A. Clarke ranted about law enforcement being oppressed. The murdered police officers of Dallas and Baton Rouge were mentioned often.

It all began to melt into a soft, weeping, jingoistic mass, and the cheering went on and on.

It all began to melt into a soft, weeping, jingoistic mass, and the cheering went on and on.

Nobody feels safe anymore. When was the last time you felt safe? Everybody tells me they don’t feel safe. Again and again the indulging of people’s fears–the hypothetical ones, and the ones of the screaming, happy delegates and associates on the floor and the stands. Donald Trump will keep you safe. He will.

For a group of people who mock millennial college students for having too many feels, the the RNC was chock full of them. Feelings about terrorism. Feelings about a border wall. Feelings about Hillary Clinton and the doom she brings and how she should be in prison.

The only real exception to the sinking feeling that America is about to fall was Trump defying protocol and introducing his wife Melania to the crowd. Presumptive nominees aren’t supposed come out, or even be visible at all, before their big speech. It’s rather like saying “Macbeth” in the the theater. Trump’s pageantry is of a different kind. He walked out to the sounds of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”, and there appeared to be a smoke machine involved because in 2016 it’s OK for the GOP nominee to invoke the stage presence of Lucifer.

Melania’s speech had a whole passage cribbed from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. The media delighted in pointing this out this morning and spent a lot more column inches and airtime debating just how similar the graph was to the Obama speech (extremely).

Because, yeah, that was the most shameful and bizarre thing that happened yesterday.


Follow Lucy Steigerwald on Twitter @LucyStag.

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