Flat White

Trump’s RNC speech: the great middle America gamble

29 August 2020

2:02 PM

29 August 2020

2:02 PM

The Orange Man is cheating. 

He’s Teleprompter Trump but we want Rally Trump crazy that will play badly on middle America TV. He’s got crowds when you’re not allowed to have crowds and we all know crowds always make it look better, what about the Covid?  

It isn’t fair, Joe had to speak from the cellar basement, next to his ventilator and memory diary. He’s got the White House as his backdrop – my God, he’s politicizing the White House.

But as my Zen Division football coach and The Donald once said, ‘not fair is for losers.’ 

The thing about Trump is that he’s the sum of his parts. Or he’s anything you want him to be. Or he’s the Rorschach Test of America. Today’s he’s being presidential and tomorrow he won’t be. We all know that, you really need to keep up. The anti-Trump media whine seems to be missing the point. 

Was Trump comatose or presidential in his sedentary delivery? Who is this inoculated orange man? Did we find him in Biden’s basement, next to the old Bill Clinton blow-up dolls and Jeffrey Epstein IOUs? 

It’s the chicken or the egg thing, its finger-lickin’ good in the Age of Covid. 


As a visual spectacle, the entire Republican Convention plays better than the Democratic one. Trumpian ‘cheats’ means he is willing to use the backdrop of the White House and DC monuments quite shamelessly. Complaining about this is like complaining about the brain cell damage when The Bachelors Areeba explains her Machiavellian political philosophy on how to get a date by wearing a nice strapless frock. 

The CNN guys acknowledge the spectacle – grudgingly. They all work on television and know how the popcorn chomping masses think. It’s dismissed as a ‘reality show’ which when you think about it is exactly what they are. Whether it’s the neo-con sarcasm of Tucker Carlson or the neo-left joshing of Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo agreeing with each other about the how the riots aren’t really riots as it was only one block burned down. 

This is Trump’s middle America gamble – will the convention sell better because it was a better spectacle or will it repel everyone by not being Covid appropriate as a number of outraged CNN talking heads are arguing. They’re clearly backing the electorate’s inner scold while the Trump handlers are hoping the shiny bauble distracts us all into a new right wing nirvana with Ivanka serving drinks. 


At 70 minutes the speech is too long and its delivery subdued. But it’s better in content than the usual rants, and proves a useful context to the much better Vice President speech from Mike Pence delivered the night before that outlined a genuine vision for a future Pence presidency that until now no one else other than Jesus saw coming. 

In singsong monotone Trump highlights the dangers of a weak Biden holding back the rioting protesters and ambitious Kamala. You might not like the Donald but at least you know he will act, is the message. Biden didn’t mention Trump by name in his speech referring to Dark Forces instead. Trump mentions Biden by name 41 times. 

There’s rare humor and good lines too – not something you usually pay to see at a Trump speech.  He raises an orange eyebrow to note Biden hugging… and kissing, his supporters. He says ‘cancel culture didn’t build our country,’ a line that will resonate with educated voters who don’t like the gaucherie but hate the Left’s suffocating Woke project even more. 

Trump now makes the argument for American exceptionalism that amongst the anti-Biden negativity provides the vision thing if not quite Reagan. About now CNN start trolling him by running a Fact Check Covid death numbers strap at the bottom of screen.  

I know the Left will see this as a clever intervention but it may be too cute for voters who resent being told what to think.  

What’s next?

Well, then there are the debates. But are there? Biden has committed but Nancy Pelosi says he shouldn’t debate as it would demean the process. But she would, wouldn’t she? 

Trump spoke for an overlong 70 minutes and Biden for 24. There may be method in this madness if the view becomes that Biden won’t debate because he cant think unscripted for extended lengths of time. 

Biden is leading but the polls will tighten. There are two dropped shoes to come – how long can the Democrats hide Biden in the cellar and watch out for that infection spike amongst DC Republicans in a month from now. 

Michael Scammell is a former US Consulate Media Officer and political speechwriter. He writes at https://mdswords.wordpress.com 

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