It seems unlikely that anyone watched every minute of the Republican National Convention’s first night. As well they shouldn’t.
The ‘Make America Safe Again’ night was long. Not as long as it seemed at times. These themed convention evenings are produced for TV channels and viewers who dip in and out of the quadrennial reality show. Hence, the safety theme is repeated every segment by each speaker.
The program contained moments of powerful emotion, moments of anger and sadness, moments of fear and moments of beauty. Guess who those moments involved?
Melania Trump’s speech to humanize her husband was probably the most eagerly awaited. And the Slovenian-born former super-model did not disappoint.
She was introduced by her husband, who made an untraditional appearance before the usual Thursday acceptance speech. And Trump entered the stage in an untraditional manner. No, not on a trapeze. Trump emerged center-stage like a WWE gladiator in silhouette through a cloud of theatrical smoke. He then gave what will surely be his shortest speech ever:
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor to present the next First Lady of the United States, my wife, an amazing mother, an incredible woman, Melania Trump.
Somebody else can analyze her no-doubt pricey white dress with the pouffy sleeves. Of course, she was a professional performer as a model. But for someone making their first address to millions on national TV with so much at stake for her much-caricatured husband, Trump’s wife seemed remarkably poised. She has rarely appeared in the last 13 months, preferring to stay with their son Aaron.
Social media, fed by campaign Democrats, exploded afterwards charging parts of Trump’s speech resembled Michelle Obama’s 2008 spouse speech. As someone who has researched and written speeches for a potential first lady, I must note in fairness there are only so many ways for a woman to politely praise hubby in public. And they’ve all been used before, long predating 2008. (Imagine if you can a Bill Clinton spousal speech humanizing Hillary: “She leaves pantsuits lying all around.”)
Apparently Mrs. Trump’s accent also bothered some viewers. Judging by audience cutaways, her deliberate delivery actually endeared her to the arena crowd clearly wanting her to succeed. (And compared to the raspy, finger-pointing Democrat nominee, Mrs. Trump came across like Demosthenes.) Critics should sound so good if they ever speak four or five languages like Mrs. Trump.
As all convention speakers do, Mrs. Trump used teleprompters. Two rise out of the stage floor and a large lighted board hangs on the hall’s far wall, enabling speakers to look straight into cameras to heighten honesty, which Mrs. Trump did at key points.
She also won crowd approval by gracefully acknowledging war veteran, former senator and GOP nominee Bob Dole, who was helped to his feet to wave. He turns 93 Friday.
It was an unusual spousal speech in that we did not learn about Trump’s favorite movie or music, about his love of popcorn, peanut butter or maple syrup on ice cream. She described the candidate in plain general language as a great father, husband and leader with a little-known compassion for those suffering. Ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also alluded to Trump’s anonymous financial help to families of fallen police or firefighters.
“Donald does not give up,” Mrs. Trump said. “If you want someone to fight for you and your country, he’s your guy.”
The night was also poignant. Patricia Smith, mom of Benghazi fatality Sean, let out her anger for all to feel. “I blame Hillary Clinton,” she said. “Personally! Donald Trump is everything she is not.”
And it was graphic as Mark Geist and John Tiegen took 24 minutes to describe graphically the long night of Benghazi fighting, the consulate fire, the shooting, explosions and vainly seeking a pulse on dead buddies. Eventually, they were rescued not by U.S. forces but by elements of the late Moammar Gadhafi’s unemployed bodyguards.
Mary Ann Mendoza and Jamiel Shaw, among others, described losing sons to violent illegal aliens.
“We’d like a commander-in-chief who calls the enemy by its name,” said Tom Cotton, a senator and former Army Ranger. “A commander-in-chief who draws red lines cautiously but enforces them ruthlessly. And it’d be nice to have a commander-in-chief who could be trusted to handle classified information.”
Former Defense Intelligence Director Gen. Michael Flynn took apart Obama-Clinton national security policies that cripple and endanger the military. And an energetic Giuliani revealed a major Trump line of autumn attack: The economy is stagnant. The country and world are spinning out of control and Clinton represents the status quo.