Whoever chose former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to be the prime-time speaker at the opening night of the Republican Convention, moments after ten p.m. in the east coast, should have his head handed to him/her.
Donald Trump's wife Melania, who gave a generally good, polished speech as a means to provide introduction to her persona had to wait until 10:23 and closed her fifteen minute talk on the approach to 11. And her delivery was fine. Not too personal about her life with Trump, but nonetheless dignified as she put forth mostly political reasons to vote for her husband, reminding one and all that he was so successful. Pity, though, that it now appears she appropriated several lines from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech without any acknowledgment.
But that's chickenfeed compared to Giuliani. And admittedly I am biased against Trump, his speech was blood red meat to the crowd in the hall. The schedule planners, however, apparently never read media expert Marshall McLuhan's famous remark that The Medium is the Message. McLuhan also referred to TV as a cool medium and cool was anything but what Rudy personified. He was continually shrill, shouting pronouncements about Donald Trump and how he would make America great again, even as he castigated Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Literally screaming his exhortations, I was waiting for the men in white coats to drag him off, or at least a stage manager with the proverbial hook.
In 2012 Clint Eastwood famously erred talking to an empty chair in mock debate with President Obama. Next to Giuliani's performance it was sober and reasonable, as the ex-mayor spewed venom and took Hillary's statements to the 2013 House Oversight committee out of context. Quoting her twice in non-stop shouts he indicated she said, "What difference does it make?" which she had said in exasperation and not at all what Giuliani implied, that it didn't matter that the American ambassador to Libya and three others had died. Her point was she would rather not continually debate whether the attack was due to an anti-Islam video or angry mob, preferring instead to move forward to learn from the experience and make sure it didn't happen again.
But Giuliani didn't care that his use of the quote was akin to a lie. That the various House investigations had not proven any culpability on Hillary's part, a fact echoed by numerous commentators after Pat Smith the grieving mother of Sean Smith, one of the four who died in Benghazi, blamed Hillary directly for the death of her son from the convention rostrum. Indeed, the media experts all refuted this sort of emotional behavior not based upon facts that had been exhaustively studied, and dismissed the mother's speech as typical political convention exaggeration.
Remember, too, that Giuliani is the man who after the Dallas police killings decried the slogan Black Lives Matter, stating it implied that white lives do not. That he did not seem to compute that Black Lives Matter was a response to all the killings and incarcerations of Black people in our society, disproportionate to their number and the group was really saying that Black Lives Matter as much as White Lives do -- not more as Giuliani implied.
Look, I understand political conventions are a theatrical exercise and there will definitely be exaggerations of Donald Trump next week at the Democratic conclave in Philadelphia. That, and the ads and political commentaries and the fall presidential debates will help those on the fence to decide what they're going to do on November 8.
But it was not a good start for the GOP. Some of the speeches were better than others, in between C and D level actors Scott Baio and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, not to mention the fact that the two former GOP presidents, two other GOP presidential candidates, numerous candidates this year, including home state Governor John Kasich refused to attend the convention.
You know, the Trump side had a chance to show magnanimity when the anti-Trump people simply wanted a roll call vote on rules changes -- a vote they were sure to lose, but they wanted the chance to make their views known. Instead, the powers who ran the convention insisted the petitions submitted to get such a roll call had fallen short and they didn't want to discuss it or in fact even show proof that the petitions earlier delivered had been withdrawn. Instead of venting the built-up steam they rammed their rejection through, riling many delegates and causing the Colorado contingent to walk out.
And that proved to be what the commentators were talking about for most of the afternoon before the evening session. That the unity being sought by Trump in anointing as vice president right-wing Indiana Governor Mike Spence was pretty much spoiled, and it will now remain to be seen what the next few nights bring.
Michael Russnow's website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com