Nicholas Harrington

About Nicholas Harrington

Nicholas Harrington is the Chief Political Analyst for The Big Smoke.

Approx Reading Time-14During the penultimate day of the GOP convention the crowd turned on Ted Cruz before turning on the waterworks. Poor Ted.

 

 

 

First things first. Ratings for day two of the convention were down from opening night. I’ll put my tin-foil hat away and concede there was no Machiavellian brilliance to Melania Trump’s plagiarism. It was a categorical disaster.

Van Jones opens the discussion with some delightful philosophising on honour, virtue and dilemmas. “Its about two different kinds of honor. The one for your word, and the one for your family…This whole election has been a character test.” Jones is referring to the tough spot in which Ted Cruz has found himself. Should Ted give Trump a full-throated endorsement at the convention (keep to his party pledge), or should he give muted support within the context of a Hillary denouncement (loyalty to his family). The backstory is that during the rambunctious primaries, Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of Ted’s wife and suggested that his father, Rafael, might be complicit in the JFK assassination.

Nope, that actually happened.

Phil Ruffin: “Donald bought it for $40 million. I didn’t like it. But then he sold it for $120 million…” There are some awkward claps and approvals. It’s hard for the mechanic from Idaho to identify with those kinds of deals I guess. Weird, that. Nonplussed, Ruffin rattles off five more “deals” Trump has done. Proving presumably that he has the nous for turning a profit – a business acumen that has direct applicability to the White House – we hope.

Ralph Alvarado, Jr presents the face of diversity while appeasing Hispanic conservatives who bemoaned their lack of inclusion in the first two nights. “Immigrants come to this country, not expecting better lives for themselves, but rather for their children.” Ralph recounts the struggle his parents made so he was afforded the opportunity to become the first Hispanic state senator for Kentucky. A solid conservative message that resonates well with the room. Republicans are not anti-immigration, they just have a different vision. They want immigration to be legal and hard. Hard means they don’t want immigrants to receive benefits. Instead, they should struggle and make it on their own. It’s a kind of Spartan, social Darwinism that ensures only the most dedicated and diligent survive (and stay) in America. “Hillary Clinton es un político corrupto. Vote por Donald Trump”.

I don’t speak Spanish, but I think I got it…

The convention gives Alvarado a standing ovation. The idea that Republicans are racist is misplaced. If you’ll trash their political opponent, they are truly colorblind.


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Pastor Darrell Scott bellows the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence into the crowded room. It’s like mainlining patriotic heroin: audience delirium ensues.

CNN: “I’ve got to give the convention credit. The speakers have been diverse, they’ve been on message, there’ve been no faux pas (so far)…”. Republicans have some pretty low bars to clear…

“If she were any more on the inside, she’d be in prison. American deserves better than Hillary Clinton.” Governor Scott Walker provides reluctant Trumpists with their primary motive for voting in November. It’s clear that many Democrats and Republicans alike will be voting to keep someone out of, rather than put someone into the Oval Office.

In my last article, I suggested that tonight was going to be “Trade and the Economy” night.

It’s not.

It feels like “Republican values night”. It’s a smorgasbord of anti-Hillary, anti-big Government, anti-establishment, anti-values erosion, anti-illegal immigration, pro-innovation, pro-small business, pro-hard work and pro-constitution.

“Donald Trump is the ‘law and order leader’ we need, to heal a divided nation.” Lynne Patton recounts the tragedies of Orlando, San Bernadino, Dallas and Baton Rouge. “We need to stop seeing these as attacks on the LGBT community, or attacks on the police, or attacks on blacks. These are attacks on all of us, on the very foundations upon which this country is built.” This sentiment stands in stark contrast to the “identity politics” methodology of the Democrats: their insistence to communitise all issues and events. Like it or hate it, if you’re not part of the group being addressed at any given time by Democratic leaders, you’re liable to feel left out. One should be acutely aware by now that the phenomenon of “white middle-class neglect” is the principle factor in the rise of Donald Trump and his populist movement.

Exactly the message Rudi Giuliani provided opening night: “There’s no black America, no white America, there is just America!”. The Democrats would do well to appreciate these are beliefs, principles and concerns. Regardless of their veracity – if people believe it, you need to pay attention. “Let us not deny that historically black lives have mattered less in America. As a black woman, I can proudly say that Donald Trump believes my life matters, Latino lives matter, blue lives matter…all lives matter!” The crowd comes to its feet. This is a unifying moment.

Senator Marco Rubio gives a video address to the convention. He provides a clear indictment of Hillary’s role in the “failure” that is Obamacare and her foreign policy failures. It’s short but cutting.

Last night was a foggy mess and quite tottery. Tonight is a professional, solid evening, framed by GOP values and punctuated with quality speeches.

This is the speech Cruz would have given had he been the Republican nominee. He better endorse Trump soon, this is getting awkward – don’t want voters getting buyer’s remorse.

Sen Ted Cruz takes the stage. This is the longest applause any speaker has received in the past three days. “I am convinced America is going to come back…” This is essential messaging in the 2016 Election cycle: America is on the wrong track, on a precipice, and only Trump can, “Make America Great Again”. Will Cruz endorse Trump? It doesn’t seem like it.

Ted recounts the last words of a young daughter to her father, a police officer slain in the Dallas shootings: “Will I ever hug you again”? Jesus…that’s rough. “To die by love, is to live by it.” Tears are dabbed from cheeks. Warm applause careers around the room and up into the rafters. He’s good. Goddamn, he’s good. “What if this, right now, is our last time? The last time to do something for our country…”

This speech will go down in GOP folklore. Cruz receives a rousing, “U, S, A…U, S, A…” for his efforts. “Our nation was built on the five most beautiful words in the English language; I. Want. To. Be. Free.” Ted is really tickling the raw nerve of Americana. This is the speech Cruz would have given had he been the Republican nominee. He better endorse Trump soon, this is getting awkward – don’t want voters getting buyer’s remorse. “Whether you are gay or straight, the bill of rights protects all of us to live according to our conscience.”

Don’t be fooled.

What he means by this is that straight people can have their refusal to bake gay-cakes protected, and gays are protected in their right not to eat the un-baked gay cakes. Massive applause for the abstract notion of un-eaten, un-baked, gay pastries.

“Endorse Trump…Endorse Trump…Endorse Trump…” The crowd gets impatient. This is incredible. The last man Trump beat in the primaries is being urged by a crowd of 10,000 to unequivocally stand behind his assailant. Cruz smiles awkwardly. I don’t think he’s going to do it. “I appreciate the ‘enthusiasm’ of the New York delegation.” He winks, although it wasn’t just NY though.

“Booooooooo! Boooooo!” The crowd is restless. A combination of cheers, boos, yells, shouts of “We want Trump…” No one is listening to the tail end of the speech. “Booooooooo…Boooooo!”

This is ghastly.

“Boooooooo!” Brutal. “Endorse Trump…Endorse Trump…Endorse Trump…”

It’s a game of chicken. Cruz didn’t blink.

Cruz tries to close with a “God bless you, and God bless the Unites States of America,” but it just sounds like “God bless…booooooo, boooo…bless the…boooooo of…booooooooo!”

At exactly this moment the camera finds Trump walking through a side entrance. What a piece of theatre. He’s waving and clapping. This only emboldens the crowd to further denounce the speaker at the rostrum. Ted…just get the hell off stage before they start throwing things.

If Donald becomes president, America will never be free of Trumps in public office. You thought the Kennedy clan got their claws in. Well, brace yourself for Donald Jnr, Ivanka, Eric and probably little Baron in the not too distant future.

CNN’s Jake Tapper informs the audience that this has never happened before (that a convention speaker refuse to endorse the party’s nominee). In the final analysis, Cruz chose family loyalty, thus resolving the Grecian dilemma Van Jones had earlier proposed. I respect that immensely. He was speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, not the man who so eviscerated him in the primaries.

Respect, Cruz.

Dana Bash: “Add this to the list of things I never thought I’d see.”

David Axelrod: “I think that Cruz is taking a calculated risk that Donald Trump won’t win the election. He’s positioning himself for a run in 2020”. David, stop projecting.

Eric Trump, Donald’s middle son, takes the stage. I can’t imagine this will beat the elder son’s speech, but let’s see. “He could no longer stand to see the word ‘Christmas’ stripped from public use, the pledge of allegiance removed from schools in an effort to be politically correct.” Oh man. Really? That’s a bit much. I’m all for getting rid of the PC culture, but no one’s banning Christmas are they? Are they??

Damn, maybe they are…better vote for Santa Trump.

“Our debt goes up by $2 billion a day.” Eric is a solid orator. If Donald becomes president, America will never be free of Trumps in public office. You thought the Kennedy clan got their claws in. Well, brace yourself for Donald Jnr, Ivanka, Eric and probably little Baron in the not too distant future. “It’s time for a president with common sense…one who knows the art of the deal…who has always been the one to sign the front of a cheque, not the back.” Got it – signing the back means you’re cashing a check – the front means you’re paying someone. That’s clever, real clever. “You are my hero. You are my best friend. You are the next president of the United States.”

Standing ovation.

CNN’s Michael Smerconish: “These speakers named Trump, they continue to outshine one another…It’s really remarkable.”

Up next: Newt Gingrich. Which Newt are we going to see tonight? Crazy Newt, or articulate Newt?


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“Trump is a unifier…with no requirement for endorsement, he encouraged his competitors to come and speak at the convention.” It’s good Newt.

“You all misunderstood a paragraph in Ted Cruz’s speech.” Man, he’s good. Gingrich “cleans up” the car crash that Ted’s speech became. Newt enumerates every single terror attack of the past 37 days. It’s uncomfortable. He has an odd way of pronouncing Allahu Akbar. “16 million people in Pakistan support ISIS…we could lose block after block, after block to a nuclear attack…Americans will likely die in large numbers on American soil.” Man, what a downer. Newt has radically altered (pun intended) the mood of the room. It was all upbeat, positive messaging. Now it’s back to the darkness of opening night. There’s been a programming error. Please get off the stage.

Wolf Blitzer: “Newt Gingrich tried to clean up a little bit for Ted Cruz…I don’t think he was very successful”. Come on, Wolf. Jake Tapped adds, “He attempted a little Newt-splaining.” Jake and Wolf proceed to undo whatever work Newt had done by clarifying that there was no “misunderstanding”. Cruz hates Trump – that’s all there is. No Christmas card from Gingrich for those two.

CNN cuts to Dana Bash on the floor, “The anger is boiling over in the room over Cruz’s non-endorsement.” That’s not true. Everyone behind her is cheering, clapping, happy. It’s clear the only thing the liberal media are going to report from tonight was that Ted Cruz got booed.

Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. Expect a solid, conservative, level-headed speech. This guy was a great pick by Trump. He was derided as the safe option by many MSNBC pundits who have for the past 12 months pilloried Trump for being dangerous and risky – you’d think they’d appreciate the balance. There’s no pleasing some people. “I was raised on a farm in Indiana…with a big family and a small corn field in the back yard…” He smiles will the self-assuredness of an all-American legend. Pence gets plenty of laughs. “Trump has a huge personality and lots of energy…I guess he was just looking for a little balance on the ticket”. Gold. “My dad was a combat veteran in Korea…he ran gas stations…” This speech is boilerplate Republican ideals. “Would you join me in welcoming the light of my life, my mom Nancy.” I find this boring. If you don’t, here’s the most bland, soulless, but values-driven and poll-tested GOP speech imaginable.

He actually just said the most important job he could ever have is spelled, “D. A. D.”

I just puked a little in my mouth.

CNN: “I think it was a pitch-perfect speech.”

Pitch-perfect to the US political class clearly means: predictable, flogged, overdone, tired, platitude-ridden, bromide-full and devoid of any practical language, leaving one with the sense that all you’ll receive from the administration is rhetoric and broken promises.

Tonight, with the exception of the Cruz incident (which will doubtlessly dominate the overnight news cycle), was a blueprint for Republican conventions. It elevated ideals, filled hopes and dreams, invigorated aspirations and renewed the belief that the future can be better than today.

A real humdinger, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tomorrow is the last night – let’s see if Trump ends on a high note, or the kind of deflation that serves the soufflé analogy democratic pundits have so keenly applied.

 

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