Republican convention: Did Trump save his campaign?

The media’s storyline of the 2020 election was set: Joe Biden would win by emphasizing his niceness and letting President Trump get beaten by the pandemic. But then last week,

at the Republican convention, Trump “tore up the media narrative and wrote a new script,” said Daniel McCarthy in Trump reintroduced him- self as the only candidate willing to fight the left-wing mobs who’ve torched buildings and battled cops

in Kenosha and Portland, Ore. Speakers reminded voters of Trump’s first-term accomplishments—tax cuts, regulatory reform, the defeat of ISIS—and testi- fied to his rarely seen softer side, while Trump used his acceptance speech to lay out a powerful, simple case for his re-election, said Scott Jennings in the Los Angeles Times. Either voters entrust him with a second term

or they elect a Democratic president certain to “raise taxes, stand aside for the rioters, and open a Pandora’s box of bad, liberal policy.” From the often unfocused Trump, his pledge to restore “law and order” and the economy was very effective. Call it “Make America Normal Again.”
Most voters aren’t stupid, said Robin Abcarian, also in the Los Angeles Times. Trump’s shiny new message—“Vote for me because what’s happening on my watch is unacceptable!”—doesn’t actu- ally make sense, and the rest of last week’s spectacle was even
less convincing. A dutiful parade of women and minorities tried to “gaslight” viewers that our race-baiting, misogynist president actually treats women with respect and is a champion of black Americans. It was both astonishing and nauseating to witness Trump’s brazen “hijacking of the White House” as a backdrop to his authoritarian-themed coronation, said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. By law, neither federal employees nor federal

buildings can be used in political campaigns. Trump’s “gross misuse
of public resources,” while delivering a fearmongering speech about “law and order” as he flouted the law, was a perfect finale to four days of “repulsive and dishonest” propaganda.
The convention wasn’t designed to please liberal pundits, said Marc Thiessen, also in The Washington Post. It was targeted at the “reluctant voters”—predominantly women in the suburbs—who supported Trump in 2016 but have been turned off by the media’s insis- tence he’s an angry racist. All Trump had to do last
week was create “a permission structure” to let these right-leaning voters come home in November. This he did with typical showman’s flair: pardoning a black woman jailed for a nonviolent drug crime and presid- ing over a naturalization ceremony for a diverse group of immigrants. “Will it work? Who knows?” said
John Podhoretz in the New York Post. But Trump’s

oft-maligned campaign staffers clearly “know what they’re doing.”
Yes—they know they can’t run on Trump’s disastrous record or his divisive personality, said Jonathan Allen in So the convention offered a beguiling “fantasyland version” of
President Trump: a smart, compassionate, humble leader who has apparently “defeated the coronavirus, saved the economy,” and promoted racial harmony. But after three long years of “alternative facts,” polls show that “crucial blocs of the electorate have grown tired of deceptions.” Trump is running as “a secessionist,” said David Frum in He left no doubt, as he derisively condemned protests and looting in “Democrat-run cities,” that he “regards himself as a wartime leader of Red America against Blue America.” Whether voters are happy for that war to continue and escalate, with the risk that it might cease to be a metaphor, is the biggest “question on the ballot this November.”

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