By Tom Ehrich
Maybe I was wrong. The image I expected from the Party of Trump in Cleveland was something akin to the Nuremberg Rally of 1934 – the so-called “Rally of Will” -- that introduced Nazism to the world.
There is still time for the orange-haired bully to stand alone on stage, to teach blue-blazered Republicans how to do a stiff-armed salute, and to unleash his version of the Nazi brownshirts to do more beating up on black women.
So far, though, the convention has been a “rally of incompetence,” marked by plagiarized speeches, empty seats, delays, fear-mongering by angry B-list politicians and stars, discord among delegates, no-shows by party leaders, and a virtual appearance by the candidate that seemed oddly like the disembodied face of “Big Brother” in “1984.”
Maybe Trump is managing this convention the way he manages his businesses: poorly. And with boundless narcissism and deceit. We’ll see what happens in the final day.
Meanwhile, I’m told that Republicans in Indiana are thrilled to have Gov. Mike Pence taken off their hands. His disastrous first term as governor threatened to drag down the entire ticket in state and local elections.
New Yorkers are reminded why they don’t miss Rudy Giuliani. House Speaker Paul Ryan has discovered what Gov. Chris Christie learned: that all lapdogs end up fighting for scraps. And the nation has seen up close what a white-power insurgency looks like, namely, sad and sour.
Right-wing Christians must be wondering why they hitched their institutional ambitions to a leader who cares nothing for their Savior, for their faith, or for them. They might have gotten their regressive morality into the GOP platform, but, in the end, serving as the off-stage chorus to a narcissist won’t do much for their credibility as people of faith.
If current trends continue, many smaller craft will sink when the big ship T goes down. The “Southern strategy” of Nixon, the heritage of Lincoln and Eisenhower, the assumed right of country-clubbers to rule, the illusion that wealth cares about the little people, nostalgia for the 1950s – all down, all under water, all swept away by reality.
This could change. Trump could benefit from a nightmarish act on the world scene, or he could concoct one, as Hitler did. Even a free people can be stampeded over the cliff if they are frightened enough.
The pathetic drama in Cleveland won’t be the final act of this tragic year in American politics. But I find myself more optimistic about the eventual victory of common sense. The decoded slogan of the Trump movement – “Make America white again” – speaks loudly to a few but repulses the many.