The night’s prime-time speakers included Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ben Carson. Donald Trump’s large, disembodied head also appeared onscreen via video feed to thank the party for the nomination, because he feels most comfortable being presented as the Great and Powerful Oz.
Ryan’s speech was upbeat and cheerful. This seemed odd, given that he had just handed the nomination to someone whose words he had called “the textbook definition of racism,” but it quickly became apparent that this Paul Ryan was just visiting from another, happier timeline and had no idea what was happening around him. He spoke of the Republican Party as a lively, exciting, aspirational party of ideas, lamenting that the Democrats offered only more of the same. He was about to introduce “our nominee, Jeb Bush” when he noticed the Trump banner overhead and the crushed butterfly on the bottom of his shoe and had to be led sobbing from the podium. (It will not be pleasant when someone shows him the platform, either.)
Then Chris Christie took the stage. Christie had honed his speaking style in Salem, 1692, and he opened by announcing that he had seen Goody Clinton with the Devil. (Well, to be fair, he did not literally say that Clinton was in league with Satan, but this restraint on his part was unnecessary, as a few minutes later Ben Carson did.) “Let’s do something fun tonight,” Christie suggested: specifically, hold a mock trial of Clinton. The crowd loved this idea and began chanting “Guilty!” when prompted. Given that much of the convention so far has been dedicated to blaming her for the deaths of Americans (“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” said Pat Smith) and intentionally sabotaging our prestige in the world, this felt like the logical, fun next step. “How do you live with your own conscience when you reward a domestic terrorist with continued safety and betray the family of [a] fallen police officer waiting for decades for justice for his murder?” Christie asked, to give you a sample. “Hillary Clinton, as coddler of the brutal Castro brothers and betrayer of the family of fallen Trooper Werner Foerster: guilty or not guilty?” “GUILTY!” the crowd shouted.
If the speech had gone on any longer, Christie would have brought out an effigy of Clinton to see if it weighed the same as a duck, then handed out torches on which you could still see the “TRUMP-CHRISTIE” logo that had been hastily scratched out and replaced with “TRUMP-PENCE.”
Yes, this is the party of hope and fresh ideas, the one shouting, “GUILTY!” and “LOCK HER UP!” as it holds a mock trial of its opponent in absentia.
Fortunately, the next speaker was Tiffany Trump, who reassured us that her father had written encouraging messages on her report cards when she was young, so, I guess, that was good. I am just saying, for future reference, if you don’t want to give off a Possible Dictator vibe, having your children speak up on your behalf and say that you have always been very nice to them IS NOT ACTUALLY REASSURING. Dictators tend to be nice to dogs and children. Caligula was fond of horses, even appointing a favorite horse senator at one point, and that did not make him a good ruler. Quite the contrary, actually. Winston Churchill, on the other hand, was terrible to his servants and family, and he was such a well-regarded leader that you can’t even move his bust around now without being yelled at.
Next came the director of Trump Winery, who reassured us that Donald Trump was a man of vision who had been essential to the success of Trump Winery. (“The success of Trump winery would not have happened without the help of Donald Trump and his family.”) This was not exactly reassuring, either.
Then Donald Trump Jr., took the stage. To give you a sense of his general vibe, “Patrick Bateman” began trending on Twitter as soon as he opened his mouth. He spoke inspiringly of a Horatio Alger-style rags-to-riches, up-by-the-bootstraps tale. Unfortunately, he was supposed to be speaking about his father, Donald Trump. If there is the opposite of a Horatio Alger novel, it is Trump’s biography. This did not keep his son from complaining about the people with Harvard and Wharton degrees who had stood in the way of his father (who only has a Wharton degree). He lamented the “new aristocrats and self-satisfied people at the top,” apparently without irony, perhaps mistaking himself for someone who was not literally Donald Trump Jr.
Not to be outdone by Christie’s fantasy mob trial of Clinton, Ben Carson announced that he had seen Goody Clinton with the devil — and, what was worse, Saul Alinsky. “Are we willing to elect as president someone who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?” he asked. Actually. I am not making this up. Then he got almost immediately off the stage.
This would have been the strangest part of the evening, but then actress Kimberlin Brown started to talk about avocados.
And that was the second night. I did not think I would conclude my recap of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland by quoting Ramsay Bolton, but then again I did not think that the evening would include references to Lucifer, a mock trial of Hillary Clinton, conducted by Chris Christie, with loud cries of “GUILTY!” and, of course, praise of Trump wines.
But “if you think this has a happy ending,” as Ramsay Bolton said, “you haven’t been paying attention.”