Uplifting? Could Have Fooled Me

[ Posted Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 – 16:50 UTC ]

Republicans promised they'd put on an uplifting convention. To say they failed to reach this goal on their first night is a vast understatement. What we got instead was fear, on steroids.

Granted, their job was a tough one from the get-go. During the Democratic convention, there was a mix of (as Joe Biden framed it) the light and the dark. But the Democrats' message was pretty clear: we're in a dark period right now, and we can move towards the light with the repudiation of Donald Trump and all his enablers. The Republican message was the opposite, which is a pretty hard case to make, considering the current state of affairs. According to the Republicans, everything is just peachy right now, but if Biden wins, things will become apocalyptically bad overnight. There's just one problem with this formulation, however, and that is that we are hardly experiencing Utopia right now, as the COVID-19 deaths climb towards 180,000, unemployment is still in double digits -- higher than at any point during the Great Recession -- and the economy looks like it is now stalling due to the Republicans refusing to pass another pandemic stimulus bill. In other words, the American public is fully capable of looking around at their own lives and seeing that Utopia is far from what they're experiencing right now.

According to Republicans last night, however, Donald Trump saved millions from the pandemic by his decisive actions (no, really!), economic boom times are right around the corner (any day now!), and the biggest worry "suburban housewives" have right now is that a person of color might move in next door to them. This is so divorced from the reality on the ground as to be bizarre, but that's where the Republicans now are as a political party.

There are two viewpoints of America now, that of empirical evidence (look around you, what do you see?) and that of Fox News. Watchers of Fox News have been told for months now that looters and anarchists and Marxists (oh, my!) are running rampant in just about every city in America, and that they'll soon be decamping for the suburbs to terrify all those White people living there. "Be afraid... be very afraid!" hardly begins to cover it. And yet that's precisely what the Republicans believe to be the biggest problem facing the country right now.

This was fully on display last night, as speaker after speaker warned of chaos in the streets (coming to the street you live on very soon now!) using the harshest and scariest language they could muster: mobs, looters, anarchy, radicals, Marxists, socialists, riots, and downright madness. All of these will be stalking the streets (of the suburbs!) the day after Biden's election. Only Donald J. Trump can save us from this fate.

This, of course, completely and utterly ignores the fact that all of this supposed madness has happened on Trump's watch. What will Trump do any differently next January, that he hasn't already tried? This is never explained. What will the protesters be doing differently should Biden win that they aren't already doing? Well... um... they'll be in the suburbs?

This was not optimism about the future. This was not uplifting in any way, shape, or form. This was pure fearmongering, and it dominated the entire night. As pretty much was expected (the Republicans can promise to be uplifting all they want, but the Trump tiger is just not going to change his stripes any time soon).

This started out very early in the day. While the Democrats used the video streaming aspect of their convention to great advantage during the roll call of states -- presenting lots of short videos from each state and territory in the nation -- the Republicans insisted on doing it in person. They also, somewhat bizarrely, decided not to hold the roll call during the evening hours, guaranteeing that virtually nobody would see it. Perhaps this was a good idea, since what they presented was a whole bunch of White guys. Women were barely in evidence, and minorities were also noticeably thin on the ground.

Trump himself then set the tone for the entire convention by making a surprise appearance and just flat-out ranting for an incredibly long time. Perhaps he was feeling constrained by the rest of the convention, since his handlers must be insisting that he read speeches off the TelePrompTer rather than just going with his normal freewheeling ad-lib remarks. Trump must have demanded at least one rally-style ranting session, which is what his post-roll-call speech turned into. And there was nothing remotely uplifting about it. As usual.

During the evening the party tried to inject some optimism, but the overall theme of the night was so negative that these efforts were jarring and disjointed at best. There were several overt appeals to voters of color, mixed in with White resentment and rage. Not a very smooth mix, in other words. A Black pro football player insisting that Trump is not a racist gave way to the St. Louis couple who waved their guns at protesters, who warned of the imminent destruction and obliteration of the suburbs, should Biden get elected, darkly warning of "low-income housing" moving in to their lily-White neighborhoods.

Think this is overstated? I don't. Because they're barely even bothering to use dog whistles anymore -- it's right out in the open for all to see. Here's Trump, tweeting before the convention started:

Why would Suburban Women vote for Biden and the Democrats when Democrat run [sic] cities are now rampant with crime (and they aren't asking the Federal Government for help) which could easily spread to the suburbs, and they will reconstitute, on steroids, their low income suburbs plan!

From last night, here is the gun-waving couple from St. Louis (the introductory "They're" refers to Joe Biden and the Democrats):

They're not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning.... These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you. So make no mistake, no matter where you live, your family will not be safe.

Representative Jim Jordan echoed these fears: "Look at what's happening in American cities, cities all run by Democrats. Crime, violence and mob rule." So did a young conservative activist: "Trump was elected to prevent our families from the vengeful mob that seeks to destroy our way of life."

The icing on the cake, as it were, came from Representative Matt Gaetz: "They'll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door."

Pretty scary stuff, eh? Funny, I don't remember "inviting MS-13 gang members to live in the suburbs" from any of Joe Biden's stated agenda items, but this merely shows what a huge disconnect Fox News viewers have from reality. But the scariest two speakers last night were Donald Trump Junior and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. Both spoke (to an empty room) at the top of their lungs, shouting their rage into the television camera. Here are just a few of D.J.T.J.'s "uplifting" remarks:

Look at what's happening in America's cities -- all run by Democrats. Crime, violence, mob rule. Democrats refuse to denounce the mob. And their response to the chaos? Defund the police, defund border patrol, defund the military. And while they're doing all of this, they're also trying to take away your guns. Democrats won't let you go to church, but they'll let you protest. Democrats won't let you go to work, but they'll let you riot. Democrats won't let you go to school, but they'll let you loot....

It's almost like this election is shaping up to be church, work, and school versus rioting, looting, and vandalism.

And here was his charming (and extraordinarily loud) girlfriend Kimberly:

Don't let the Democrats take you for granted. Don't let them step on you. Don't let them destroy your families, your lives and your future. Don't let them kill future generations because they told you and brainwashed you and fed you lies that you weren't good enough.

Um, kill future generations? Wow. That Joe Biden certainly sounds like a scary guy!

There were a few window-dressing attempts to achieve two rather unlikely goals last night as well, but they were lost among all this fearmongering. The first was to convince people that Donald Trump is actually a caring father, an empathetic leader, and a fine human being all around. We got Trump talking to first responders and freed hostages, all of whom spent most of their time extolling Trump's wonderfulness. The only female among the freed hostages didn't even get the chance to speak, notably (her husband did instead). None wore masks, and none were socially distanced from each other. The second big goal last night was to get voters of color to consider voting for Trump. Herschel Walker talked of his 37-year friendship with Trump and was personally insulted that anyone would call him a racist.

The disconnect of these two goals with all the surrounding fearmongering continued at the end of the program, with the two non-scary minorities chosen to speak, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and sitting Senator Tim Scott. Haley and Trump Junior seemed to both be subtly competing for control of the party after Trump exits the scene. After all, whether Trump Senior wins re-election or not, there will be a wide-open GOP field for the 2024 race either way, and both Junior and Haley used the occasion last night to make an opening bid for this race (and they won't be the only ones to do so during the four-night convention, it's pretty obvious).

Haley had a tough tightrope to walk, presenting herself as one of the least-scary Trump minions, who built her own political brand on being a model GOP minority success story and overcoming Deep South racism to do so. But this brand bumps up against some of Trump's worst impulses, so she had to be careful. "Together," she said, "we made the hard choices needed to heal -- and removed a divisive symbol, peacefully and respectfully." She did not, however, explicitly use the words "Confederate flag," since Trump has now championed the defense of this flag.

Tim Scott, also from South Carolina (the state, incidentally, that saved Joe Biden from political oblivion in the primaries), also tried to rise above Trumpism. He spoke movingly of his own humble beginnings (not quite "born in a log cabin," but close), and how he also had to overcome racism to get where he is today. Scott's speech, however, didn't have quite the flavor of testing a 2024 run out that Nikki Haley's did.

Taken alone, the speech given by either Haley or Scott could be considered uplifting (to one degree or another), but these speeches were preceded by so much raging fearmongering that the disconnect was jarring and obvious (even the schedule contributed to this perception, as between when Haley spoke and when Scott spoke we got Junior's high-decibel rant). What was also obvious was that Trump and the Republicans are desperate to blunt Joe Biden's edge among voters of color. From the start, we got pretty much every Black Republican they could find, as well as every Black personal friend Trump has left (which, by my count, adds up to "one," unless you also count Kanye West).

Last night's presentation by the Republicans seemed to be warring with itself. On the one hand, there was an attempt at outreach to minority voters. On the other hand was racial fearmongering and tossing lots of red meat to Trump's White base voters. These are not exactly harmonious with each other, obviously. You can call what we saw last night several things, but in the end, "uplifting" certainly wasn't one of them.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


28 Comments on “Uplifting? Could Have Fooled Me”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Did you see that animated, black and white - or grey, really - commercial on CNN?

    The elephant is looking through a telescope at the skies above. The donkey comes upon him and asks, What are you looking for?

    The elephant responds while continuing to look through the telescope, The planet you live on.

    The elephant moves away and the donkey looks through the telescope for just a second and then looks at the elephant and says, Oh, God. Well, the lens cap is on, so ...

    Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe ...

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You know, if Trump could focus and stay away from the ludicrous nonsense for just a short while, every now and again, he could scare me, especially if he were to start talking in a sane way about the economy and what Democrats would do to it if elected ... despite the Republican cult of economic failure which, it should be noted, has been around for a lot longer than Trump.

    If Trump would just stay clear away from QAnon or whatever it is and just talk about the economy, Democrats would be in real trouble. Trouble because most Dems have a hard time tooting their own horns on the economy for reasons I have yet to understand.

  3. [3] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    You're pretty tough to commit to watch the GOP convention. I didn't even watch the Democratic one (except for Biden's speech), and that's the party I favor. Since I change radio stations whenever the president speaks, or threatens to speak, in a desperate attempt to live a life free of that voice and its persona, I'd rather shoot myself than watch four nights of his personally programmed advertising.

    I did notice in your report that the talking points were handed out with rigor.
    Jim Jordan: "Crime, violence, and mob rule."
    D J T Jr: "Crime, violence, and mob rule."

    I notice the mainstream media that I follow is tip-toeing very carefully in its coverage so far (day 1). They're trying to report on the lies and obvious hypocrisy without drawing the usual defensive accusations about anti-GOP bias. But that's just from skimming the headlines and first paragraphs. The rest of the coverage is best ignored, for sounder mental health.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I think you should come up with a new nickname for the Democrats that is, oh, I don't know, less final?

    And, the Republican nickname should be more, well, accurate in the sense that Con can be pretty easily construed as being just conservative, you know.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How about RepubliConvict?

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Actually, that commercial doesn't make any false equivalencies between Democrats and Republicans because that wouldn't be the smart thing to do. Ahem.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You do realize that both the elephant and the donkey were looking into the telescope, don't you?

    Yeah, and only one of them knew there was a lens cap on. Get it!?

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Adios, a Stones concert awaits ...

  10. [10] 
    andygaus wrote:

    I understand that Trump showed his empathy for the freed hostages, at least one of whom had been imprisoned in Turkey, by saying something like "Erdogan has been very good to me." We keep thinking he can't go any lower...

  11. [11] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Don Harris,

    The Deathocrats passed a lame bill months ago they knew the Republikillers would not advance and have done nothing since because they could just blame the Republikillers. The Deathocrats have just been Biden time hoping that voters will only blame the Republikillers.

    Meanwhile people are dying. That's pretty damn final.

    But the Democrats passed a bill that did things that would actually be helpful to the vast majority of the public... you want them to pass bullshit like the Republicans want that might look helpful on the surface, but that really does nothing??? Then you will complain that the Democrats passed a “do-nothing” bill. And tell us what the Democrats should have passed that (1) the Republicans would have passed and (2) would have saved lives? I mean, you are calling the Democrats “killers” for what they haven’t done... so it should be easy for you to answer the question.

  12. [12] 
    Kick wrote:

    Chris Weigant

    Haley had a tough tightrope to walk, presenting herself as one of the least-scary Trump minions, who built her own political brand on being a model GOP minority success story and overcoming Deep South racism to do so.

    I'm pretty sure I heard Nimrata say that it's a lie that America is racist... right before she explained how her family were discriminated against and then told the story about the white supremacist who mass murdered multiple black citizens in a South Carolina church.

    Perhaps she's just blissfully unaware that the Deep South is part of America... or... maybe she just doesn't know what constitutes a "lie." Allow me to demonstrate a lie:

    We saw and looked at true hate last year in Charleston. I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That's not who we want as president. We will not allow that in our country!

    ~ Nimrata Nikki Haley endorsing Marco Rubio

    It's sad what the GOP will not only allow but turn a blind eye to and voluntarily endorse. Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley know exactly who Trump is and what he's done in concert with adversaries of the United States, and they've both turned a blind eye to someone they know full well has committed multiple crimes. Full stop.

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:

    But fool me for decades and I will vote for you again in 2020- pretty damn final for democracy and pretty fucking stupid.

    Don Harris seems blissfully unaware that voting is "democracy"... even when "pretty f***ing stupid" people who have been fools for decades keep encouraging people not to do it.

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i made the mistake of turning on the RNC for a few minutes last night. nonstop parade of fear and loathing.


    different can be either better, worse, or neither. i think your method of voting would be worse, and voting based on pie would be better. you certainly can't prove that it wouldn't.


    knowing the lens cap is on doesn't quite equate with removing it. that's why it's so weird that it took the lincoln project to write the ads that democrats should have been writing for decades.


    at the time, Haley and Rubio were trying to win. after losing, they got on board. for them it was never a matter of principle, in either direction. i think that's true of about 80% of politicians of either party.


  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    it's also why CW began writing his friday talking points in the first place - dems as a unit are notoriously bad at hammering home the most obvious reasons why they are the better party to govern our country.


  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    True dat, all of it.

    Which is why I am a bit concerned that Trump could win on the Republican cult of economic failure.

    Tim Geithner could really take the lens cap off of that nonsense!

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yeah, I know, bad messenger. But, only because he saved Main Street by not putting Wall Street behind bars. Cry me a river.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    He also fought the hardest for Dodd-Frank. Ahem.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Maybe CW could take on the Republican cult of economic failure in FTPs ... soon and often. :)

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I only watched Melania's speech last night.

    You want to talk 'weird', Joshua? Oh, man ...

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    She personifies alternate universe ... and, how!!!

  22. [22] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    " . . the economy looks like it is stalling due to the Republicans refusing to pass another stimulus bill."

    We're on the brink of rediscovering the old truths about the nature of money ("You can't eat it, you can't wear it, you can't shelter under it") as enunciated so plainly by Milton Friedman, but long since forgotten/ignored.

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    There you go again.

    Said the board echo chamber.

    I am not telling people not to vote. I am telling people to vote in a different manner as the way citizens have been voting has not worked.

    Bullshit. The way citizens have been voting has worked just fine regardless of whether or not you like the outcome of the thousands of elections across the United States or whether or not the thousands of candidates meet with your personal approval.

    FACT: It is a fabrication and outright misinformation to claim that you advocate a different way of voting when what you advocate is the equivalent of disenfranchisement.

    FACT: Voters in Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota are not allowed write-ins at all. It is voter fraud to suggest to them they can write in their own names because they cannot.

    FACT: Voters in Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming will allow voters to write in any name they wish.

    FACT: In the remaining 35 states, the only acceptable write-in candidates are those who have officially registered with the state by a predefined cutoff date and by either filing paperwork, paying a fee, collecting signatures, or multiple combinations of those.

    FACT: You can spin it however you want, but when your "idea" is to misinform people that they can vote for themselves as a write-in candidate when that is by law not possible in the vast majority of states that have no way to do that without having their name placed on the ballot, then your "idea" could literally meet the definition of voter misinformation.

    FACT: Supplying voters inaccurate information about how to vote can be considered voter fraud.

    FACT: Voter fraud is a felony.

    So to recap: You encouraging and/or misinforming voters that they can vote in ways that are not legally possible in their state is voter misinformation and could carry a criminal penalty for voter fraud. You insisting that another man shill for your voter misinformation that could carry a criminal penalty for you both is so far beyond the pale that it's pathetic.

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    There is decades of proof that voting for the false choice between big money candidates does not work. If it did Trump would not be president.

    Notwithstanding your personal preferences, voting does work.

    The only way to prove something works or doesn't work is to try it.

    Bullshit. I don't have to try breathing to know my lungs work. I don't have to cut myself to know I will bleed. I don't have to go to cast a ballot for myself in Texas only to find there's no write-in space because I know there's no way I can do that without filling out legally binding election forms, paying a pricey registration fee, and having my name placed on the ballot. It is not physically possible to vote for myself otherwise. I know this because it's in the rules. Don Harris can insist a voter can vote for themselves until the cows come home, but in the vast majority of states, a voter cannot legally do that. We already do know this.

    When you misinform people about write-in voting that isn't available to them, that is voter misinformation and a potential felony. Full stop.

    And people can't choose to try it unless they know the opportunity exists.

    People can't choose it already in the vast majority of states. It's already not a legally viable option. You've been asked multiple times to stop with your monomania. Another term for your "monomania" is voter misinformation, which might actually constitute felony fraud.

    So let's give people the information on the alternatives to continuing to vote in a way that doesn't work, One Demand and pie based voting.

    Opinions are like assholes, and voter misinformation can literally be a felony in multiple jurisdictions.

    We will see what people choose and find out if either alternative works if people choose it.

    Why don't you stop with this shit like you were asked by CW? Do you deny that a voter cannot legally cast a write-in vote in 35 states without having their name placed on the ballot by paying a fee and/or collecting a certain number of signatures and/or registering... or any of a number of combinations of the above depending on the state? Therefore, we already know your "idea" isn't possible as defined by you and constitutes voter fraud on your part.

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:


    at the time, Haley and Rubio were trying to win. after losing, they got on board. for them it was never a matter of principle, in either direction. i think that's true of about 80% of politicians of either party.

    I'm specifically referring to Rubio being on the committee that investigated Trump who now knows full well the crimes he's committed:

    Nimrata Haley also being aware of said crimes, among others.

    I disagree that 80% of politicians of either party would support a candidate they knew was guilty of what Trump has done. Name another election where you saw so many defections from one political party to endorse the candidate of the other, and spare me the false equivalency, please. All pies are not created equal; some are loaded with nuts. :)

  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    She personifies alternate universe ... and, how!!!

    I know, right, EM!?


    Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president.

    ~ Melania Trump


  27. [27] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Death Harris [28]

    There is decades of proof that voting for the false choice between big money candidates does not work.

    There is decades? Really? What does "does not work" mean? Fat Donny is president and you seem to want four more years of him. Looks like it works for you.

    If it did Trump would not be president.

    So, if it did, HilRod would be president?

    FYI - correlation does not equal causation. Your assertions are unconvincing and self-contradicting. You sound like the Orange Grifter, endlessly spamming the same stuff again and again as if repetition makes it so.

  28. [28] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    second night review column is now up --


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