Finley: Republican Convention Notebook

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

President Donald Trump started out his acceptance speech looking as if he were going to get what he needed from the address to the Republican National Convention.

He appeared measured, confident, competent and presidential. The teleprompter proved to be Trump's friend for awhile. He's not as entertaining when reading from a script, but he's a lot less likely to walk off the dock.

For the first half, Trump did a good job of defending his record of promises kept, notably creating jobs, securing the border and confronting ISIS.

The teleprompter proved to be Trump's friend for awhile, Finley writes.

He attacked Biden without the taunting, schoolboy tone he often employs. And he clearly defined the choice voters face this fall and the consequences of that choice. 

He presented a vision of the next four years without obsessing  on the slights he's suffered over the past four. And he made some specific promises about confronting the Covid-19 virus.

And that's where he should have stopped.

Instead, he became rambling Trump again. He talked through the impact of his speech by repeating key points over and over, lapsing into name-calling (crazy Bernie, wild eyed Bernie) and going on and on and on. 

Trump needed to seem less scary and chaotic than his public image, and he managed that for awhile.

But this everything but the kitchen sink speech did not build to the crescendo it needed to kick off his reelection campaign. Was anyone still awake at the end?

Other observations:

► The convention highlighted the Republican Party's seldom seen diversity, as well as some of its bright young talent. Ingrid Jacques takes a look at who they are in her column today.

► Ivanka Trump called her dad "the people's president," and that's not far from the truth. Trump is driven by populism rather than principle, and he's willing to exploit the anger and frustration of many Americans. For those who feel nobody in government, the media or the popular culture speaks for them, that's a powerful draw.

► The appearance by Ann Dorn, the widow of slain Missouri police officer David Dorn, was particularly significant in light of the coverage of the white teenager who killed two in a rifle assault during a protest/riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Dorn is one of an estimated 17 people murdered during the ongoing  Black Lives Matter demonstrations. None of the killers have received the attention that the Kenosha shooter has. We don't know who Dorn's killer supported in the upcoming presidential election. But that information was deemed newsworthy when it was learned the Kenosha shooter attended a Trump rally. In Detroit, a 19-year-old man was killed at a BLM protest when a shooter did same thing the Kenosha killer did: Shot into a crowd. Compare the coverage of the two shootings and draw your own conclusions.

► I do hope this is the last time we see Rudy Giuliani on a political stage. 

Alice Marie Johnson, pardoned by President Trump, reminds us that there is still a lot of work to do on criminal justice reform. Locking people away and throwing away the key wastes lives that could be redeemed, and does little to make us safe. Rather, society is enriched by Johnson's freedom. There are thousands more like her.

► The Republican convention had this in common with the Democratic convention: It was too long. Three days would be more than enough. Two days would be optimum.

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