At times, while watching the pandemic edition of the Republican National Convention, I had to remind myself this wasn t a "Saturday Night Live" parody of the Party of Trump. But it easily could have been.
The first night of the RNC amounted to a series of skits on the themes Trump has previewed for us repeatedly, alternating between lying about who President Donald Trump is and what he has done -- and lying about who Joe Biden is and what he would do.
It started with the convention s opening film. As images of the Statue of Liberty and Trump in action flashed across the screen, the narrator -- Jon Voight -- described Trump as "a man who works tirelessly for you," and a party that is "embracing the undeniable greatness of diversity." Cue the laugh track. If "SNL" producers had been directing, they would probably have added video of any of Trump s over 200 golf outings, and perhaps him telling non-White Democratic members of Congress to go back where they came from.We were told that Trump has been a "decisive leader" on the pandemic, in contrast to Democrats. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, with plenty of material available to illustrate Trump s bungling of the federal government response. Just to highlight the point, the producers put Trump in the White House talking to "regular people," without masks, without sufficient social distancing, with Trump again mentioning "hydroxy" and giving other incorrect coronavirus information.
Convention speakers offered variations on these deceptive themes, with an occasional dog whistle along the way. The youthful conservative activist Charlie Kirk proclaimed Trump the "bodyguard of Western civilization." And the wealthy St. Louis couple that made you-can t-even-believe-this news around the world, brandishing weapons outside their mansion last June when Black Lives Matters protesters were outside, claimed that Biden and Democrats "want to abolish suburbs altogether" by bringing low-income housing to neighborhoods. They further warned about "Marxist revolutionaries" taking over Congress.
It was all really scary -- or funny -- depending on your perspective.
Biden, we heard over and over again, plans to defund and dismantle the police, something he has repeatedly denied; and that he is a radical socialist, a ludicrous claim that his decades in office prove false. A Cuban émigré noted gravely that Fidel Castro was once asked if he was a communist. Castro, too, said no. We know how that turned out. So, grain of salt on Biden s centrist claims; he may be a secret commie.Montana businesswoman Tanya Weinreis praised Trump for saving her business and expressed deep compassion for small businesses facing "the terrifying prospect of Joe Biden."
The entire slate of speakers was determined to make Biden look chillingly frightening and Trump reassuringly competent.
Perhaps after Biden s recent performance, they ve changed tack on painting him as addled -- and instead decided to cast him as a weak leader controlled by the "radical socialists," a label that came up again and again.
The charge that the Democrats are all becoming socialist clashes with the reality that primary voters chose the centrist Biden, who then picked a centrist running mate in Kamala Harris. Surely, they ll fine tune their Trojan Horse argument.
Trump s "promises made, promises kept" motto came up a few times, making me think back to his promise to abolish Obamacare and replace it with "something terrific." Waiting, still. Then there s the wall Mexico will pay for, and all the other unkept promises. But never mind any of those.
There was a lot of drama -- even tears. But nothing came close to the performance of Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.s girlfriend, former Fox News host and a Trump campaign fundraiser. In a very loud, melodramatic delivery that was vaguely reminiscent of the over-the-top rhetorical style of South American caudillos, Guilfoyle gave us an urgent heads up about the great perils ahead. Biden and the Democrats, she warned, "want to destroy this country ... they want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think, and believe, so they can control how you live." She beseeched us, "Don t let them kill future generations."When her effusive display ended, CNN s Wolf Blitzer declared coolly, "That was forceful." Jake Tapper responded, "Forceful is one word for it."
If "SNL" were scripting the RNC, they could simply lift some of these speeches and performances verbatim. And then, to wrap it up, they could show the party officials trying to come up with a platform, explaining what they stand for, and what Republicans believe and hope to accomplish. In the comedy routine, Republican stalwarts would find that everything they thought they believed has been opposed or muddled by Trump.
So, someone would suggest that instead of bothering with a platform, they should simply issue a document stating that whatever Trump wants, that s what they believe. And if it were a television sketch, that would be hilarious. But, unfortunately, for America today, that s actually reality.