The second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland began with Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, notifying the American people that what they could plainly see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears simply was not so.
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” Manafort said, striving to deny the undeniable – that Trump’s wife Melania the night before had clearly plagiarized part of a similar 2008 speech by the wife of Barack Obama.
“I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that,” he added. “To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
In that are-you-going-to-believe-me-or-your-lying-eyes moment, Manafort (whose previous sleazy clients have included “authoritarian leaders and scandal-plagued businessmen in Ukraine, Russia, the Philippines and more”) perfectly captured the twisted political values and deranged cultural zeitgeist that a few hours later led the Party of Lincoln formally to nominate Trump for president: the triumph of lying, fraudulence and magical thinking over verifiable facts, reason and basic honesty.
It’s a distressing and despairing political trend that Calbuzz has tracked for six years, since we dubbed it the “death of truth.”
Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president Tuesday night — and spend a moment pondering the meta-absurdity of those 10 words — and ushered in with him a dangerous new era of American politics:
Donald Trump is many things: an archetypal narcissist, a reckless provocateur, a vicious demagogue, a menacing bully and a ruthless thug. Most of all, he’s a pathological liar.
A few other glimpses of Day 2 of the Trump National Convention:
Banana Boat: The caustic, corpulent and still un-indicted Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, emerged as the most incendiary speaker of the night, with his self-styled “indictment” of Hillary Clinton for her roles in Libya, Nigeria, China, Syria, Iran, Russia, Cuba and in setting up her own in-home e-mail server.
After detailing political charges – since, of course, there were no criminal charges in any of his examples – Christie got the audience to scream “GUILTY!” alternated with “LOCK HER UP!”
Our favorite Republican analyst Steve Schmidt gave the most accurate description of the delegates’ frenzied and frothing reaction to Christie: “It seems a little banana republican to me,” he said on MSNBC. “It’s something we’re not used to hearing in this country. We don’t lock up our political opponents.”
Of course, the mob on the convention floor already hates Clinton passionately – not unlike the way banana republican Manuel Noriega hated Panamanian democratic reformers. That, in fact, is the organizing principle of the convention thus far: Hillary Hatred, facilitated by a roster that sports the lowest percentage of black delegates – 0.7% — at a GOP convention in at least a century, with 18 blacks out of 2,472.
The irony of Christie – a former prosecutor – delivering an “indictment” of Clinton when his own top staffers have actually been indicted on criminal charges in his “Bridgegate” and related scandals, was no matter to the delegates.
It was pure, inside-the-hall rhetoric, designed to inflame the already-committed. Whether Christie did anything to persuade the 30% of undecided voters outside the hall that Clinton is more loathsome than Trump is doubtful. It was, instead, reminiscent of Patrick Buchanan’s 1992 “culture war” speech to the RNC in Houston – a screed that scared the bejesus out of viewers all across America.
Shocker: Junior praises Daddy. Donald Trump Jr. was more effective at speaking to viewers outside of the hall, with his stories about how the old man hung out with the workers on construction sites – as if the Donald ever knew a sheet-rocker by name – and instilled in his children respect for hard work and decency.
“For too long, our country has ignored its problems, punting them down the road for future generations to deal with,” Trump Jr. said. “In business, I was trained by my father to make the tough investments and decisions today to ensure a better future for tomorrow. We’ve actually started to believe that solving our great problems is an impossible task, and that’s why we need to elect a man who has a track record of accomplishing the impossible.”
There were no specifics about what Trump would actually do, except oppose everything Clinton stands for. But it was long on promises, to wit:
“For the first time, parents no longer think that their kids will be as well off as we were. We’ve lost the confidence in our leaders and the faith in our institutions,” the handsome young Trump said. “But remember one thing: we’re still Americans, we’re still one country, and we’re going to get it all back. We’re going to get it back better than ever before.”
And a chicken in every pot.
P.S. For those who want the inside story on Melania’s plagiarism, here’s the definitive-to-date New York Times’ account. Our best guess: Melania was the plagriarizer. She has no education to speak of and probably had no idea you can’t just borrow someone else’s writing or speeches, change a few words and call it your own. The campaign can’t throw her under the bus so no one will hear Donald say, “You’re fired!”