I watched the first night of the Republican National Convention — now with even more Melania Trump! — and took some notes on who did well and, well, who didn't.
My best and worst of Day 1 is below.
* Rudy Giuliani: Sure, the former New York City mayor shouted most of his speech. But I found him to be a very effective advocate for Trump. He talked about Trump's anonymous charitable giving; he talked about Trump as a father and a friend. Giuliani's broadside against the threat posed by terrorism and the need for Trump's strength had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. In what was a generally sleepy night, Giuliani brought it.
* Donald Trump's entrance: I have always wished that politics was more like pro wrestling. Increasingly, I am getting my wish. Trump's entrance into the Republican convention — he offered a brief introduction for Melania — was epic. Backlit. Fog/smoke machine. "We are the champions" blaring through the speakers. It had everything.
* Marcus Luttrell: The former Navy SEAL — and subject of the book and film "Lone Survivor" — delivered an impassioned and raw appeal to patriotism during the first hour of the nighttime program. It's hard to command a room at that hour — people are shuffling around and just getting settled in for the night — but Luttrell did it.
* Scott Baio: Name the last time before Monday night that you thought — at all — about Baio. (Don't tell me you saw "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.") Yeah, me neither. But on Monday, Baio was, well, popular. On the Internet, that is.
* Melania Trump: The bar was not terribly high for Trump's wife, given how reluctant she has been throughout the campaign to speak publicly. And yes, she was staring down the teleprompters for her whole speech. But I found her to be warm, likable and genuine. She offered a nice grace note by singling out Bob Dole for praise from the crowd. She even showed off a bit of humor.
Watching Melania Trump speak, it was hard for me to imagine that anyone would leave her address feeling anything but more favorably inclined toward her husband. It was a big win for Team Trump.
At least, it was a big win for the brief stretch between that genuine convention speech and the moment much of the internet realized they'd heard a good chunk of that same genuine convention speech before. Eight years before, to be precise. No matter how good one may think Michelle Obama's speech is, the Republican National Convention probably isn't the place to revive it.
* Michael Flynn: It really wasn't entirely the retired lieutenant general's fault that his speech fell so flat. He followed Melania Trump in the final moments of Day 1 — a weird scheduling choice, given that her speech was clearly going to be the emotional fulcrum of the night. But he just went on and on and on. And on. He may still be speaking.
* Jeff Sessions: Watching the senator from Alabama speak, you can see why Trump was smart not to pick him as VP. His speech was flat and senatorial (and I don't mean that as a compliment). I could have done with Sessions and Luttrell swapping speaking times. I don't think I'm the only one.
* Darryl Glenn: A series of hackneyed one-liners (Hillary in an orange jumpsuit, etc.) and blatant appeals for applause (stand up and cheer for blue lives) were bad enough. But this Glenn line put me over the edge: "Someone with a nice tan needs to say this. All lives matter." Oomph.
* Antonio Sabato Jr.: Look, I am all in favor of nontraditional convention speakers. But the underwear model and soap star made zero sense as a convention speaker. He had no special connection to Trump and nothing to say other than Hillary Clinton was bad and Trump was good. I could have lived without it.
* Joni Ernst: The Iowa senator is one of the rising stars in the national GOP and could run for president or wind up on the national ticket in 2020 or 2024. Unfortunately for her, she didn't even start speaking until well after 11 p.m. Eastern time, meaning that the number of eyeballs on her were WAY fewer than she and her allies would have liked. Blame it on Michael Flynn.