An unconventional Republican convention

It’s tradition that the party which holds the presidency has its convention last, and it’s a great advantage. The latter can watch the former and try to insure it runs a tighter ship if mistakes are made, as well as make adjustments as needed to counter what was heard.

Lucky Democrats. They have their own very flawed and disqualified presidential candidate, recognized by everyone who puts country before party, but because the Republican convention was a bit bumpy to say the least, the Dems can take political advantage.

Some thoughts about a convention of unforced errors. I did watch more speeches than I mention but I didn’t want to go on forever.

After the first day, I thought a good title for the Trump campaign was “Not Ready for Prime Time.”

The press was quick to note that the Ohio delegation’s seats were off to the side and back, not usual for a hosting state, an important swing state at that, and also showing that Trump could not forgive and make nice, he had to keep settling personal scores – Ohio’s governor John Kasich, a former opponent had yet to endorse the New York businessman – diverting the message from what was important.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, even attacked the very popular-within-Ohio Kasich, at the start of the week. Not smart. Trump needs Ohio. Yes, Kasich refused to appear at a convention in his own state, and it’s not pretty. That’s past, get over it, show it doesn’t bother you, and move on.

Manafort is a tough guy like his boss. But good campaign managers are tough with staff and sparingly so with everyone else. Supporters may like the “screw ‘em all” attitude but it doesn’t play well outside the Trump base. And the Trump base is not enough to win all the marbles. Trump did get over 13 million votes in the Republican primaries and caucuses, the most ever, but he will need about 70 million votes or more to win the general election. And swing states will make the difference. Good luck with that.

There was a mini-revolt by some Never Trumpers, a good number of them Texas senator Ted Cruz supporters, trying to change the rules to unbind the bound delegates by allowing them to vote for whoever they wanted on the first ballot. (Remember when Cruz and his supporters cared so much about past established rules when Kasich wanted to do the same but had not won enough states according to those rules? Guess it’s all relative to the Cruz people.)

After a bunch of yelling and some strong-arming by the RNC, the insurgency was put down. But this apparent surprise to the Trump campaign was not the worst that would happen that day.

Melania Trump, was caught plagiarizing within the biggest appearance of her life. She did say on the morning of Day 1, she wrote her otherwise well-delivered speech with a little bit of help, but after the repercussions and story that would not go away, including nonsensical and defensive remarks by Manafort, the speechwriter went public and fell on her sword. Melania may have delivered the speech well, but she was shown to be disingenuous, and the campaign shown to be very sloppy.

It seems Melania admired Michelle Obama and so, what the heck, the speechwriter used Obama’s words in a speech that was to be given to millions. Now I know Michelle Obama used some words not her own, as has her husband and Joe Biden, etc., but so what? It doesn’t make anything better. In fact, it makes it worse. Did anyone think no one would figure it out? Did anyone even vet the speech? Biden couldn’t get away with it when there was no internet, and it ruined his bid to become president in 1988. Geez.

The Melania fiasco was so pathetically stupid and it’s what happens when professionals are not in command. Trump didn’t fire the speechwriter, but the damage was done, and the poor wife of the candidate, a very accomplished person in her own right, looked like a fool. Very few remembered Melania’s fine words, only her stolen ones. What a shame.

Marcus Luttrell, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL and Purple Heart recipient gave a tremendous speech. You can and you should watch the six and a half minute speech by clicking here. Sadly, this sincerely passionate and heartfelt speech, my favorite of the convention, was not in primetime and was in any event, overshadowed by the Melania debacle.

By the end of Day 1, many were asking, if The Donald can’t run a convention, how will he be able to run the country? Paul Manafort, who was supposed to fix things, should be fired and the family members, who know nothing about politics, should have less influence. A lot less. Winning primaries is not the same as fighting an all-party national campaign. Novices and yes men tough guys should yield to, horror of horrors, establishment insiders who know how to run things.

On Day 2, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of Donald Trump’s vanquished rivals, dished out some good red meat. He won’t be the VP should Trump win, but he wants to be the AG, and it showed.

Tiffany Trump, Donald’s daughter through ex-wife Marla Maples made sweet remarks about her father, and Donald Trump, Jr. gave a speech that left many viewers wishing he were the candidate and not his father.

Day 3. Eric Trump gave another fine Trump child speech leaving many viewers wishing he were the candidate and not his father.

VP choice Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a good man and great governor, politically a nice and not nasty version of Ted Cruz, did an excellent job. But speaking of Ted Cruz…

The sour-grapes champion of the race for the Republican nomination, through his selfish actions, i.e., his “Vote your conscience,” speech, overshadowed Pence, just as plagiarism dealt a blow to Melania.

Now look, I have heard all the excuses from Ted Cruz and his supporters. It doesn’t matter if Trump saw the speech before Ted gave it, perhaps setting him up. And it doesn’t matter that Trump said disgusting things about Cruz’s wife and father, which he did. And yes, Trump himself played fast and loose with the pledge to support the eventual nominee, and had he lost, does anyone really believe he would have kept it? Of course not. But all that doesn’t matter.

It’s Trump’s convention. Period. And politics is a blood sport. For someone who could dish it out, Ted Cruz sure couldn’t take it.

My guy was John Kasich. I think Jeb Bush would have also been better than Donald Trump. They have yet to endorse Donald, maybe they will, maybe they won’t, and Trump and his supporters are pretty unhappy about what they feel is betrayal and pettiness, but at least the two had the decency to stay away from the convention and not cause trouble there.

Bottom line, Ted. All you did was remind everyone why so many people despise you. I have made it very clear that I am no Trump supporter. I feel his nomination was a lost opportunity against a crook and a liar. But like Kasich and Bush, if you can’t get on board, in the very least, don’t get on stage.

Does anyone remember anything Mike Pence said? Sigh.

Day 4. Ivanka. Another very nice speech by another Trump child leaving many viewers wishing she were the candidate and not her father.

OK, Donald Trump raised wonderful kids. And? Nice children does not a presidential contest winner make.

I think it would have been better had the speeches by the children been moved up a day for each, so Ivanka’s would not have been overshadowed by her father’s. And someone else should have introduced the candidate. Why not the youngest Trump, Barron? That would have helped humanize The Donald and everyone, even the media, would have loved it. Oh well.

Anyway, Trump’s speech was too long, and too angry for too long. I did not mind that anger and in fact identified with it. If you have been reading my columns, you know I am mad as well. Most people are. But he should have tempered his manner if not his words in the last third of the speech, at the very least. Even the same words he used could have been delivered in a softer way.

Yes, yes, I know that’s not Trump, but doubling down on being Trump won’t do it. Before the speech, I agreed with the pundits who said Trump had to be uplifting and inspirational, and presidential as he had promised. I thought he would get there after the first 45 minutes. I wish he would have. He wasn’t very specific as usual, but he covered a lot, and delivered the words very well, handling the teleprompter nicely.

Still, preaching to the choir will not do the job. Trump is way under water with women and minorities and he will not be able to turn that around. To win, he needs Independents and moderates to counterbalance those who hate him enough to mobilize in the very important swing states. And he can forget the Bernie Sanders voters.

The next day, with the convention over, when Trump was asked about Cruz, instead of not taking the bait, which he should have done, he spent time defending himself, bringing up Cruz’s wife and father.

A better candidate would have been more disciplined to stay on message.

The message is Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, and the Democrats. That’s it. Leave past rivals and everyone and everything else alone.

Donald, even if you are asked, don’t fall into the media’s traps. Apparently Manafort can’t control you, nor Ivanka. Manafort probably doesn’t even try. No more Ted Cruz, no more Trump golf courses and steaks and universities and wine and shirts and God knows what else. I still think, barring some sort of miracle, you will lose. But maybe the beating won’t be as bad if you could only control yourself.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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