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Rhetorical Recap: Over the Top

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NOTE: These observations are based on my impressions from being inside Quicken Loans Arena, not from watching on television.

CLEVELAND—After the roll call confirmed Donald Trump’s nomination, the night’s speakers attempted to rally the crowd and unify the party by going after Hillary Clinton.  The nominal theme, “Make America Work Again,” received scant attention.

Chris Christie could not begin his mock prosecution of Clinton before the audience as jury began to chant “Lock Her Up.”  He alone roused them from the listless and distracted state that dominated the evening.

Ben Carson (who did get an ovation when he walked to the podium) asked “Are we willing to elect as president someone who has as their [sic] role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?” Several women attacked her hypocrisy as the enabler of Bill Clinton’s sexual excesses.

To make a positive case for the nominee, his children extolled his qualities as a good father. Some media commentators (I caught up this morning) have praised their speeches.  Well, compared with the continuing furor about the origins of their stepmother’s remarks (“prosecutor” Christie, earlier that day: 93% originality is fine), I cannot resist noting that everything is relative. I found Donald Jr. and Tiffany’s remarks warm and genuine but banal.

On Monday, the use of a remote camera worked effectively.  Last night, the nominee appeared in a Big Brother head shot. Chained to a script, he could not muster the enthusiasm that his procedural triumph warranted.

That may be because the levels of campaign disorganization, strategic desperation, and destructive rhetoric continue to rise.