From the Cavalcade of Crazy to the Russia connection.
On July 23, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tweeted a response to Hillary Clinton's choice for Vice President: "Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend."
Alas, Flake's graciousness is not representative of his party. He was rebuked by fellow Republicans on July 20 for responding to the "Lock her up!" chant at the Republican National Convention, ".@HillaryClinton now belongs in prison? C'mon. We can make the case that she shouldn't be elected without jumping the shark."
Moderation is unwelcome in Flake's caucus. Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) and Everett Dirksen (R-IL), who could cross party lines to work together in the 1960s, are long gone. Republicans have obstructed President Obama from day one even when he embraced their ideas. The madness to which they will stoop to gain power was on jaw-dropping display in Cleveland.
The right-wing gathering was as entertaining as a car wreck. Trump could make a new fortune selling tours of the dystopian American hellscape described by speaker after speaker, resembling the post-apocalyptic world of the movie Blade Runner. (Ivanka Trump did use Twitter to hawk replicas of the dress she wore to introduce her dad.)
The Cavalcade of Crazy went from Rudy Giuliani's ranting to Chris Christie's lynch-mob prosecution of Clinton, Laura Ingraham's Nazi salute, and Melania Trump's plagiarism of Michelle Obama. A preacher screamed "All Lives Matter!" Ben Carson bizarrely accused Clinton of ties to Satanism. Ted Cruz provoked outrage by saying, "Vote your conscience."
PayPal founder Peter Thiel's speech added to the incongruity. His statement that he was proud to be gay contrasted with the party platform, which not only urges repeal of marriage equality but continues the transphobic bathroom trolling and endorses conversion therapy quackery. Openly gay D.C. delegate Rachel Hoff tried in vain to soften the document's bigotry. Putting icing on the cake was a New York Post headline, "Male escorts are making crazy money at the RNC."
The day after Trump shouted an acceptance speech that evoked a fascist rally, Clinton announced her running mate was Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), a former governor, mayor, and DNC chair. Kaine has perfect scores from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, a 90 percent score from the Human Rights Campaign, a 91 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and has demanded greater presidential consultation of Congress on major military deployments. He earned zero percent scores from the American Conservative Union and Heritage Action, and an F grade from the NRA. As a young attorney he fought racial redlining. He wowed a Miami rally audience on July 23 with a tough and engaging speech.
Progressives know they will face a friendlier climate with a Democratic White House and Senate. Anti-war activists have their work cut out with the hawkish Clinton, but they will be far better off with an experienced diplomat than with an intellectually lazy man who admires dictators, promises indiscriminate bombing in the Mideast, and thinks our defense alliances are charity unrelated to American interests.
Trump only knows self-interest. Reports by Talking Points Memo and Slate paint a disturbing picture of Trump's business dealings with Russia, his dependence on Russian capital, and his embrace of foreign policy positions friendly to Vladimir Putin. Defense One reports on the DNC emails, "Considerable evidence shows that the Wikileaks dump was an orchestrated act by the Russian government, working through proxies, to undermine Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign." The DNC server hack aside, Trump and campaign chair Paul Manafort are caught in what is at best a reckless association with an American adversary.
The choice in this election is illustrated by the stark contrast between running mates: the religious bullying of Mike Pence, who signed a law requiring funerals for aborted fetuses (I am not making that up), versus the humble faith that drove the young Tim Kaine to teach carpentry and welding as a missionary in Honduras.
Elections can be clarifying. A hint of what Republicans have done with their descent into ignorance, intolerance, and fanaticism may be found in the book Trump waves at rallies but shows no sign of reading: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." (Proverbs 11:29)