Those watching the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on television were treated to the following: An opening prayer that referred to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as "the enemy;" a speaker who led a chant, "Hillary for Prison;" Iowa Congressman Steven King, who questioned what "non-white" people have done to advance civilization; a former television actor Scott "Chachi" Baio, who defended his use of the "C word" in describing Hillary; another actor who questioned whether President Obama was a Christian; and a general who led a chant of "Lock her up!"
Not to mention, one of the beardy guys from Duck Dynasty railing about Americans who wanted "free stuff," three mothers raging about "illegals," one mother ranting about Benghazi, two former Benghazi combatants doing a surreal war story/comedy routine, and a Milwaukee sheriff who called Black Lives Matter "anarchy" while celebrating the acquittal of an officer involved in the death of Freddie Gray.
And we'd be remiss in not mentioning the fact that the candidate himself, Donald Trump, couldn't resist calling in to Fox News for an interview during one of the convention's highlighted speeches, undercutting the message coming from his own party's prime-time exposure on national television.
But the crowning highlight of the evening was supposed to be a speech by Trump's wife, former model and theoretical First-Lady-in-Waiting, Melania Trump. The Donald strode out onto the stage cloaked in a misty haze to the strains of Queen's "We Are the Champions" (which was used without permission, but that's another story). He introduced and presented his wife to the rapt GOP audience, then graciously — and very uncharacteristically — left the stage within moments.
Melania got through the speech nicely, though her Slovakian accent made it obvious that English was not her native language. (But no matter; she is one of the "legal" types of immigrants.) When she finished, The Donald returned to walk her off the stage to the roar of the approving GOP multitudes. Then it got weird.
It turned out that two paragraphs of Melania's speech were plagiarized (there is no other word for it) from, of all people, Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to the Democratic Convention. Of course, there were denials. Stories were changed: Melania wrote it; Melania had speech-writers and didn't know anything about it. Trump valet Chris Christie insisted there was no problem, since 93 percent of the speech was original. (Try using that line on one of your teachers.)
What does it all mean? Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?
Yes, it matters, because in this convention we are probably getting a preview of a Trump presidency. And if that is the case, then that administration will be sloppy, careless with facts, impulsive, unprofessional, divisive, and built on fear-mongering and deception. The left hand won't know what the right hand (both very small) is doing.
It's quite remarkable that it only took one night of the RNC to make it clear to most sentient Americans that President Donald Trump would be an unrelenting nightmare for the American people.