Donald Trump repeatedly referred to the Democratic nominee for Vice President Tim Kaine as being from the wrong state, and likely confusing him as the wrong person, Tom Kane.
Donald Trump mistakenly referred to the man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan, John Hinkley, as "David."
Donald Trump said he wanted to renegotiate the Geneva Conventions, which provide among other things protections against torture, given that he's spoken out in favor of torture and killing family members of terrorists.
At the same press conference as all the above, Donald also bizarrely said that "France was no longer France," adding that "they won't like me for saying that." It turns out that, no, they didn't, because the French Prime Minister Francois Hollande later issued a strong rebuke -- which included a slam at an unnamed Trump: "When you lower your standards, you are no longer what you are. That's something that may happen to others, on the other side of the Atlantic,"
Donald Trump stunningly, shockingly, bizarrely called for Russia to illegally hack into Hillary Clinton's email account.
And at the very same unwieldy press conference, where he kept getting facts wrong and pushed for foreign espionage against the U.S, brought up getting rid of protections and torture, and insulted the nation's oldest ally who helped bring about the American Revolution., Donald Trump called Barack Obama the most "ignorant president in the history of our country."
Now, to be clear, I understand that anyone can make mistakes in their references, especially if part of your job is to talk far more in an our than most people do in a week. But given how many mistakes and falsehoods Donald Trump has been uttering for the past year, his lack of understanding the facts of the new political world he's involved in has been deeply evident, so I think his repeated slips of the tongue are evidence of something deeper. I think it's less his tongue slipping than it is his tongue not having a clue where it's supposed to be. This is an even bigger problem when you choose to call anyone -- let alone someone as evidently bright as President Obama -- "ignorant."
I also suspect that Donald Trump wasn't specifically trying to make a presidential-style directive to Russia to actually hack his opponent. But given that he later tweeted about it, his comment can be so easily dismissed as just a slip-of-the-tongue, thoughtless "joke." Even if one bent as far back as humanly possible to to accept this only as a pure quip, even with his follow-up, it still shows a breathtaking lack of awareness by Donald Trump, since even IF he was "joking", it unconscionably ignores that those watching in Russia might not get the joke, and choose to act on his words -- as long as we're talking about ignorance. It was something about which SO much more can be said, and in fact was by several former CIA directors, and leaders of his own party, and national security experts, appalled and aghast at the utter irresponsibility. But we'll leave it there, since I'm sure there will be more to come about Russia and his comments.
It's also important to note the fact that we're even talking about this disastrous press conference, which included telling a female reporter to "Be quiet." Because the very long tradition in presidential politics is that you don't hold press conferences during the other party's convention. But apparently Donald Trump couldn't stand having all the attention on other people. So, he just had to, had to, had to talk. Oops.
Yesterday was also the day that Bill O'Reilly doubled-down on his comment about how well-fed and well-housed the slaves were who built the White House, by actually defending himself on the air. And one wonders why the GOP isn't getting more support from blacks, hovering around 6%. (Oh, okay, maybe one isn't wondering that anymore.) Of course, doubling-down and defending yourself is not the response. It's "Oops, sorry, I don't know what I was thinking. I had a brain freeze. I most humbly apologize from the bottom of my soul."
Yesterday was also the day when the website for Donald Trump's wife Melania was taken down and apparently scrubbed, after questions have surfaced about statements on it that he had a college degree, which are contradicted in a recent book on her, giving rise to questions about what else was incorrect. The website now only takes you to a site for her husband's rental properties and golf courses, where the biography section doesn't even mention his wife (and for which archived pages of the site show she hasn't been mentioned there for five years.)
And after all of that, you finally had a chance to take a slight breath until Day Three of the Democratic Convention began.
And once again, there was much too much to write about substantively, so one is left to lists. If it all largely seems pretty glowing, that's largely because of how the evening was generally perceived by analysts on both sides of the aisle.
Vice President Joe Biden gave one of the more warm, gracious, optimistic speeches that leads into a hearty and embracing case for supporting Hillary Clinton. For years, many on the right tried to ridicule Joe Biden as just a goofball clown. In fact, Joe Biden is an extremely bright, highly-rounded, accomplished and deeply decent public official, and he showed that all in his moving, eloquent valedictory.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent, gave one of the most straight-forward, low-key and devastating shreddings of a politic opponent at a convention in many years. Forget even his reference that questioned the sanity of Donald Trump, alluding to Trump as a con man, and listing his string of bankruptcies, lawsuits and contractors who have felt cheated, the problem from the speech for Donald Trump is that was on most levels unattackable by Trump -- since his biography overlaps so closely with Bloomberg, a wildly successful businessman who not only is a billionaire but many times far-more wealthy than Trump, and self-made, as well as someone who has actually already served in politics as mayor of New York City, popular and successful enough to be re-elected, and also someone from the heart of Trump's own city and circle. I have no doubt that Donald Trump might try to attack Bloomberg, but I have equal doubt it would fall on deaf ears. More problematic for Donald Trump is that it was only just one of four strong speeches that night to address -- and powerful as it was, wan't the most powerful.
Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine followed with a speech that began simplistically and fine, but a bit flat, but then built into a very strong and sharp criticism of Trump. Doing a light, albeit odd "impersonation" might work wonderfully for some watching (indeed, many) or be seen as misguided, but the larger point was that his repeated refrain about Trump's pleading "Believe me" was where the impact of the speech focused its attention. And his use of Spanish no doubt bothered some who prefer English-only in a multi-lingual country -- but it wasn't directed at them, it was meant for those listening who were Spanish-speaking, people who have been demeaned by Trump, and was therefore especially effective. And if his opening that included much about his religion and more was thin, he was introducing himself to a nation who didn't know him. But most of all, he came across as personable, gracious, strong and progressive, and I have little doubt that the bulk of his speech was directed at the progressive wing of the party disappointed that Elizabeth Warren wasn't selected. It wasn't poetic, but that's not what VP speech do. And if it was the least memorable speech of the night, that's small criticism given the high level of the three others, and it did its job warmly, embracingly and effectively.
As for those who wanted poetry...
I won't go into President Barack Obama's speech all that much. Instead, I'll just dive to the opposite side of the aisle and quote two Republican strategists on MSNBC. Steve Schmidt called the oration, "The single best political speech I have every heard in my life" and Nicole Wallace said it was so so particularly powerful because it didn't take on Donald Trump, but rather "Trumpism" as a general philosophy, which now forced it to be defended. Beyond all that, the surprise touch at the end to bring out Hillary Clinton and have the president in essence pass the torch to the nominee was not just wonderful stagecraft, but with a purpose.
So much more could be said about the speech which was quite soaring, but I'll leave it at that. Indeed, I'll leave all four speeches there. It was an very strong night for the Democrats, which Republican convention has nothing to compare with optimism, vision, patriotism, poetry and eloquence in even a single speech, and this had four of them, back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Everything likely did not resonate with the part of the public that's angry and frightened. But I suspect most of the public watching at the base and (far more importantly) in the middle wants optimism and hope and vision. And appreciated, too, the moving short film that introduced President Obama to highlight his achievements of 7-1/2 years and his decency, a clear contrast to the Republican nominee. But more to the point, given the potential divide with which the convention began, a good part of the speeches were directed at the party itself to make its case of why it's so important to get behind its nominee.
I believe they succeeded. Not that this "won" the election. Not even remotely close. Or that it necessarily even changed a lot of minds. Maybe it did, maybe not. (Though "many" is rarely needed. "Enough" is sometimes all it takes in an election.) But its purpose was otherwise. It's purpose was to lay the groundwork. And they had some great bricks.
Yes, I know this look at the Democratic night and Republican morning is fairly heavily weighted to one side. But...but the thing is, I think it's still a fair and objective look. I believe it actually was a deep and extremely strong night by the Democrats, and a highly problematic day for Republicans, as a foundation for stating the campaign. I've looked at the day from a lot of different angles, and listened to and read a great deal of commentary, of the whole day.
And it was quite a day. And I think the Democrats did really well. And Donald Trump did not.