The Republican Convention: How more Surreal Can Politics Get?

I can barely stand to watch the Republican convention because I don’t believe anything Trump says.  Nor do I believe most of what those in the Republican party say in favor of him as many of them were sharply critical of him only a few months ago, including his VP running mate Mike Pence.

What makes the convention so surreal is that that most of the delegates are pretending this is a normal convention while it is actually an elaborate pretense.  Trump is pretending to be a Republican and the Republicans are pretending to believe him.  When it comes to party standards, no one knows what Trump actually believes, so how can anyone believe in him?

Talk of unifying the Republican party is a sham.  What holds it together with pins and needles is a common antagonism towards Hillary Clinton.   They have been hating her for so long many probably believe she is as bad as they say she is.

In the attempt to make the party seem unified phoniness prevails.  Did you see Trump and Pence with Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes Sunday?  Pence has often criticized Trump but Sunday they acted as if whatever was said in the past doesn’t matter. They understand each other now and are basically on the same page.  Of course, whatever Trump has said in the past doesn’t matter because he changes the story whenever it suits him while acting as if what he says now is what he meant before.

Leslie pushed the points of apparent difference, but showed in the process once again how feckless the media are when trying to pin Trump down.  He never really answers a tough question – like how is he going to accomplish anything he promises.  He just keeps dodging or stonewalling  until the reporters finally give up.   He looks strong.  They look weak.  More image points.

Leslie was so congenial I wondered if she is not bothered at all by what a “faker” Trump is, as pointed out by Justice Ruth Ginsberg.  An inappropriate comment in normal times I think, but these are not normal times.  Trump erased the lines of political propriety a long time ago.

And in agreeing to play ball with a faker like Trump, Pence became one as well.  Speaking of fakers, I can’t wait to see Ted Cruz give a speech tomorrow backing in some way the guy who insulted his wife and the memory of his father while labelling him “lying Ted” the Canadian.

I’ll be curious if Cruz says anything good about Trump, thinking he’ll primarily just hit the Hillary piñata around, but he is such a weasel himself, he might say something nice here and there.  Whatever might help his future political life.

It is ghastly the way Trump has personified our politics at their worst.  Most unsettling he has taken the worst parts to new lows and turned them into a winning formula.  Jeb Bush said:  “You can’t insult your way to the White House?”  Well, Jeb, we’d better hold our horses on that one.

So, what do the reporters do?  Impotent in general, they try to pin Trump down where they can with some minutia like the plagiarized phrases in Melania’s speech last night.  Given all of the lies and distortions that are standard fare served up by the Trumpeteers, this stuff is miniscule.  And I think his supporters and the cliff hangers see it as more proof the press is out to get him.  Overall people seemed to like Melania’s speech.  That impression is what is important, not a few stolen words.

Haven’t the press learned by now that facts don’t matter in this surreal political world, especially puny ones like a little phrase borrowing in a speech.  It’s all about the impressions one leaves with the many.

The goal of this convention, besides heaping more scorn on Hillary, is to broaden the appeal of Trump as a good father and a loyal boss who many people actually like working for despite his demanding nature.  The campaign wants us to see the  “other Trump” who in private moments won over the likes of Ben Carson and may help swing some voters who have been troubled with the Mr. Bluster act.

I don’t think that is all bunk, which is why I have argued against labelling Trump a racist or any other “ist”.   I don’t think he is a bad man in his private life, but what makes him such a danger in his public one is his willingness to do or say anything to get what he wants.  While he acts like his wants are synonymous with the needs of our nation, his entire life has been characterized by self-aggrandizement.  Why would a man so preoccupied with himself for all these years suddenly become predominantly concerned about the rest of us?

I think his fans are dreaming, or to put it more harshly, reverting to an infantile stage with longings for someone to take care of them.  They are so tired of changes in American life which I think are mostly a result of changes in the entire world that leave us still great but not supreme as we had been for decades, so tired of these changes including the ever greater complexity of living day to day that many just want to hand over all those problems to someone who promises to fix them. Enter big daddy Trump.

Those who say Trump is more trustworthy than Hillary don’t mean the statements that he makes, in exactly what he says – they know he exaggerates for effect and attention, even making up stuff such as the things he has said about opponents.  What they trust is his proven ability to win.

They extrapolate from his past successes, topped  off by winning the nomination against all odds, that he will be a winner as president as well, whatever that might mean.  In contrast, I believe the skills it takes to be the President of the United States are greater in nature and more complex than what it takes to win the office, a subject I will give attention to in later posts.

My assessment of Trump is more along the lines of how Trever Noah of the Daily Show has described the scene in Cleveland:  “It is quite a thing to see a party succumb to the will of a ….really dangerous buffoon who has hijacked their party.”

What makes it so surreal is that most of the people at the convention are acting like this is not the case.