Only the diehard fans of Donald Trump will say that the man was the best thing that happened to America and that he deserves to be given a second term in office.
But deep down, even within the Republican establishment, stalwarts are wondering if the country can gamble away the future with a person who thrives on a single point agenda — HIMSELF. When the curtains came down on the four-day Republican National Convention on the lawns of the White House, one dominant feeling was that the fireworks that followed the President’s acceptance speech was far more impressive than what Donald J. Trump had to say in his hour-plus long rambling remarks.
Even Trump’s favorite anchors out of Fox News must have surely disappointed the Big Man who was taken to shreds by Chris Wallace and Brit Hume characterizing the convention speech as ‘surprisingly flat and without any ‘excitement’ with Wallace especially making the point that the ‘impressive’ post-speech fireworks were still booming in the air. “I have to say in his delivery, I thought the President — who we have seen really turn on a crowd — was surprisingly flat and didn’t seem to have the bite that he usually does have in his speeches,” the senior Fox News anchor remarked. “The speech was very, very long. I don’t know that any speech that is an hour and ten minutes uninterrupted by anything visual can work very well,” said Hume, senior political analyst at the network.
Those watching Trump for four years and others who have known him for a long time must have heaved a sigh of relief that the President did not use the time to pour gasoline on fires already ravaging America as he is known for his incendiary vocabulary. For reasons best known only to himself, Trump did not spare Joseph Biden and the Democrats but was careful enough with his language even on matters he loves to rub it in the wrong way. The long-winded speech did touch on different aspects of domestic and foreign policies that print and electronic media were quick to put through fact checks, a totally unnecessary process and a waste of time — for the incumbent and his campaign know that what they are putting out is either misleading or factually incorrect but would nevertheless stick to the script hoping for the gullible to fall for the pathetic spin.
For four days, all that America heard was how wonderful the Trump Presidency had performed, what a humane and compassionate person Trump was and how the future of hope and light is going to shine on the country. Four years ago, Trump promised to Make America Great Again; and this time around Vice President Mike Pence has said that Trump was going to Make America Great Again, Again! Left to the Trump campaign, in the next two months all that people are going to hear as to how Biden and Senator Kamala Harris are part of a ‘cancel’ culture, destroying all that America stands for, taking away guns, disband and defund the police and in general supervise a society in which mayhem is going to be the order of the day. Extremists in the Republican party will be bent upon whipping up so much fear that ideally they would want people to do one of two things — vote for Trump or sit at home on election day.
The brazen fashion in which the Convention was conducted speaks volumes of the new lows in American politics with Trump not hesitating to use the White House and the Bully Pulpit to advance narrow partisan political agenda even as many legal and ethical questions have been raised on the propriety of Trump and the RNC using government property, especially the lawns of the White House, willfully disregarding the norm of wearing masks or maintaining social distancing. None of all these would make Trump and his campaign staff lose a wink of sleep; and probably would do it all over again if they realized that this was bothering the conscience of a few. The crass manner in which this election has been framed by the Grand Old Party — the choice between the American Dream and a Socialist Agenda — leaves much to be desired. Trump is said to have mentioned China as many as 15 times in his 70 minute speech, essentially to drive home the point that Beijing wants Biden in the White House so that it can take the United States for a ride.
Trump and his cohorts talked about the vision and the dream of America; but it seemed that this was of a totally different country. The Republicans took credit for tackling the coronavirus when some 180,000 people have died; unemployment is in double digits as millions of workers are dependant on government doles; millions of kids are fearing to go back to schools because of COVID; teachers are refusing to get into classrooms; universities and colleges are virtually broke in the absence of student enrollment with many resigned to the online mode of teaching. And all this grief because someone was not alert at the switch. And now comes the rant of socialism being the biggest danger.
The virus, economy and law and order are all on the agenda to both Republicans and Democrats but in different ways. The virus simply is non-existent; it is a big bogey by the Democrats to win on November 3; President Trump acted swiftly and the country has benefitted; the economy is doing well and will do better if the incumbent is given four more years; law and order is on the ballot for Democrats are trying to unleash pandemonium in the streets and there will be no cop on call as Biden would have de-funded the police. This, in a nutshell, is the Republican platform; and for every one of these there is the counter by Democrats who argue that Trump and his administration have failed on every one of the issues raised and miserably at that.
The punches will get harder as the days roll by; in fact Trump has queered the pitch by saying that his team will demand a drug test for Biden before the debates for the reason that the former Vice-President apparently did well in a debate against Senator Bernie Sanders when he flopped against others —therefore he must be on drugs! Hopefully it is one of those bizarre and silly sideshows of the President or it would seem that he is looking for a way out of the debates. He tried the same with Hillary Clinton but with no result. The Biden-Harris ticket seems to be well prepared for the antics of the incumbent; only that a sense of complacency should not set in just because Biden is ahead on an average of eight points in national polls. This showdown is going to be a close one.
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington D.C. covering North America and the United Nations).