I was a skeptic.

Having attended conventions since 2000, I always thought the Democrats brought better production values to the quadrennial pageants than the GOP. Starting from behind, with a backstage skill set inferior to the lefty Hollywood producers and this year pressed by changing circumstances brought about by the virus, I just expected a creaky, clunky series of wooden speeches.

Was I ever wrong.

No numbers yet on total viewers, but Monday night’s Republican National Convention was a masterpiece of messaging. If past is prologue, President Trump will continue his march and add to his momentum over the next three nights this week after sustaining no damage through four days of Democrat dog-piling last week. Trump and his team smartly took on the Democratic charges that he mishandled the virus, nursed extremism and is a racist. It was a full-throated, hardball defense of the Trump record, and it came in unexpected ways from unexpected voices with unexpected passion and success.