The Republican Convention is upon us. Originally, I planned to watch the entire convention gavel to gavel as I usually do for Presidential conventions, but then I saw the speakers list. It reads like the daily line up from the Fox News Channel. To see for yourself, follow the link: full list of daily speakers, scroll to the bottom and hit the “Story Continues” button. I already know what Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and the Trump children are going to say so I would much rather spend time with my Bengals and chatting with my wife than wasting it hearing them repeat what I just heard them say on Fox and Friends this morning. And yes, I do watch Fox news, but I balance it by also watching CNN and MSNBC. The contrast in coverage and commentary would be entertaining if it weren’t so striking. There are however a few speakers on the convention list that caught my attention, and I have built a list of speakers I will be listening to, and possibly commenting on based on the content of their speech. The convention is laid out into daily themes, and I’ve listed the speakers I plan to pay attention to based on each day’s theme below.
Day 1 Theme: Land of Promise
Ambassador Nikki Haley (former US Ambassador to the UN)
This lady is tough as nails. I wouldn’t want to engage in a rhetorical battle of words with her because she would run rings around me even on a subject where I was an expert and she knew nothing about, she is just that good. Ambassador Haley has a reputation of speaking her mind which is another of the things I like about her. Yes, she is an ardent Trump supporter, but she is also someone who could be on the Republican ballot for President in 2024. Anytime she speaks, I pay attention, so I’ll be sure to listen to her to see if she gives any clues as to her intentions for 2024. She also could easily end up in a significant cabinet position should Trump get re-elected so the theme of her speech might give some clue to that.
Day 2 Theme: Land of Opportunity
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
What I hope to get from Sec Pompeo’s speech is some sense of whether there will be any coherence to Trump’s foreign policy since there hasn’t been so far, and if so, what and in what direction the President plans to take the country should he win the election. To date his strategy seems to be to jump from one crisis to the next, many of his own making. My big fear should he be reelected is that all the world leaders who are currently holding their powder (figuratively) pending the election, will let loose their powder (literally) should Trump win re-election. I am particularly concerned about overt military action from Iran or their surrogates Hezbollah and Hamas against the UAE given our recent joint agreement. I see that as a huge risk for another Iraq/Kuwait situation. It worries me deeply even if irrationally. I also want to see if there is any clue that Sec Pompeo will remain in the position should Trump get reelected or if he would choose to move on. And my last concern is our trade policy with China and whether Sec Pompeo will address any of that. Prior to COVID-19 I would say we had some leverage to play hard ball. Since COVID-19 and the subsequent global economic collapse, particularly with our medical supply chain tied to China, all that leverage has shifted until we can rebuild our domestic medical supply and pharmaceutical capacity. I truly hope Sec Pompeo addresses this. I also hope he doesn’t refer to COVID-19 as the China flu or some other such pejorative term. It would be beneath the office of the Secretary of State, though clearly not beneath the President.
First Lady Melania Trump
I’ve always enjoyed listening to Melania Trump. She is a more intelligent and substantive than people give her credit for. She is articulate, and I want to see her affect as she expresses support for her husband. Can we ascertain whether she is playing a role for power or whether she truly believes in the direction her husband will be taking the country should he be re-elected? I find her always worth listening to. She has so much more to say than the President’s handlers allow her to, and I am hoping some of that comes out in this speech. And frankly, she is the only member of the Trump family other than Ivanka and the President that I am interested in hearing from.
Senator Rand Paul
Sen Paul of all the speakers has a reputation of speaking his mind, consequences be damned. I align more closely with him politically than just about anybody else in the Republican Party, probably because he is closer to a libertarian than Republican. Rand Paul is not a Trump cheerleader…he supports him and many of his policies, but he tells it like it is. Having Rand Paul on the speakers list is something of a risk for Trump because you never know when he will go off the rails. I am sure his remarks will be pre-screened but he has a reputation of going off script when it meets his personal goals. It will also be interesting to see if he gives any clues as to a possible cabinet role should Trump be reelected.
As the Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi is clearly aligned with Trump. But she is incredibly well educated and intelligent. As I see it, her purpose is to shore up support amongst the Republican base of women and I want to hear her approach to them as well as her outreach to independent and undecided women. My concern is that she is so intelligent, articulate, and well-educated that she will speak over their heads. My main interest in hearing AG Bondi speak is whether she can bring it down to a level the average person can understand. She opposes same sex marriage and LGBT rights and I am interested in whether she addresses that position and how she can possibly defend it. This is a bit of a nit but she is attractive woman who has been twice married and twice divorced. There is a reason for that…she is married to her job and I want to see how she conveys that passion. She is mainly talking to the base but I want to hear whether or not she signals any shift in her position on same sex marriage and LGBT rights. If not, this party is in BIG trouble.
Day 3: Theme Land of Heroes
Former acting DNI Richard Grenell
What I will be looking for here is any indication of the direction the Durham commission work is taking and what October surprise might be lingering around the corner from the commission.
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn
I’ve always enjoyed the plain-speaking style of Sen Blackburn. After all she is from Tennessee. Yes she is a clear Trump supporter, but much like Rand Paul, she speaks her mind, though in a more refined manner. Sen Blackburn will give us strong signals as to the direction another four years of Trump will mean for this country.
New York Rep Elise Stefanik
Rep Stefanik is an up and coming star in the Republican party and for that reason alone warrants attention. She is articulate, intelligent, and represents the younger arm of the party. I hope to get some clues as to how the younger members of the party will exert their influence on Trump to move the party and the country from where it is stuck in the 1980s and 1990s. Of all the speakers on the list, I am most eager to hear what Rep Stefanik has to say and whether or not she can energize the young Republicans.
Day 4: Land of Opportunity
HUD Secretary Ben Carson
Sec Carson is basically a constitutionalist which is one of the many things I like about him. He is a brilliant surgeon who pulled himself from his boostraps with the help of his Mom from the slums of inner city Detroit. You wouldn’t know it to hear his quiet and calm affect today, but he had a violent history as a youth. His story is America’s story. He abhors political correctness, embraces critical thinking which resonates with me, but curiously he isn’t anything close to being a politician. I have no idea what he is going to say, but now retired (mostly) from medicine working as a philanthropist and prolific writer, he has a lot to say and I agree with much of it. This speech will be mostly about the entertainment value for me because I just love hearing his soft spoken common sense approach to life. And more importantly, he credits his skill as a surgeon to God. He considers his hands to be instruments through which God works. There isn’t an ounce of ego in this man and I always love hearing him talk. In a debate, he loses every time because he doesn’t engage in rhetoric. He speaks the plain truth that all Americans can understand. And I want to get a clue if he will be around, and if so in what role, in a second Trump presidency should he get re-elected.
I have to admit here that of all the speakers, this will be the only of the Trump children I watch. She has done so much to advance women’s rights and the plight of underprivlidged children. I understand her role will to be cheerleader as she introduces her father for his acceptance speech, but I am hoping she gives us a glimpse of what she sees her role being should her father be reelected. She has done so much behind the scenes and has so much more to offer. Of all the Trump children, she is the only one I care to spend my time listening to.
How can you not listen to the President’s acceptance speech? I don’t expect anything new here. This will be the classic narcistic Trump at his worst, and I expect his acceptance speech will make my blood boil. But he will give us a vision of what four more years of Trump will be like, and how can I miss that? Plus it will serve as the basis for my blog post hopefully yet that night, as long as he sticks to the schedule and doesn’t talk for two hours which with Trump is never a sure thing. I also think given his age and the excitement of the event, there is always the possibility he’ll pass out on stage which would make for interesting theater as they revive him and he pretends he was just playing a joke on America.
A couple of points in closing. First, it is tradition that the nominee stay away from the convention until the final day, or maybe make a cameo the night prior. You just know with Trump and his massive ego that won’t happen, so I am interested in how many times he shows his face throughout the convention and disrupts the schedule. The Democrat Convention went off like clock work, 8-11PM each night. I expect the Republican Convention to be a fiasco with no set schedule, and Trump will contribute to that with his constant interruptions. We shall see.
The final point I wanted to make is that, just as interesting as the list of speakers is the list of non-speakers. I wonder why Jared Kushner is not on the list? After all isn’t he single handedly the architect of our wonderfully successful middle east policy that has resulted in exactly one agreement, a meaningless agreement between Israel and the UAE that presents greater risk of bringing into conflict with Iran than bringing peace to two nations separated by 2500 km who already enjoy close relations without benefit of this agreement? The other notable gap on the speaker list is Lindsay Graham. Sen Graham has been one of Trump’s most ardent supporters so his absence from the speakers list is striking. The only reason he isn’t on the list that I can think if is that he is in the fight of his life to protect his seat in the Senate and this is the start of Sen Graham distancing himself from the President in an effort to save his own butt.
All in all this will be an interesting, and more entertaining than informative, convention. I usually watch these things gavel to gavel. Not this time. Why bother when you can tune into Fox News pretty much any time of day and get the same talking points? I’d rather spend the time chatting and snuggling with my wife and our two bengal cats.