OK, let’s recap the week at the Republican National Convention. Be prepared, this makes for depressing reading.
The week began with Antonio Sabato, a former underwear model, little known actor, and failed Dancing with the Stars competitor, addressing the convention. Why Antonio Sabato, no one is sure why. But after his speech, he told ABC News that Barack Obama is “absolutely” a Muslim. Then there’s another of the other (cough, cough) ‘star’ speakers, Scott Baio, briefly a teen heartthrob for his role as Chachi in Happy Days and its spinoff, Joannie Loves Chachi, and later on Charles in Charles. (His best role was a small part on Arrested Development as lawyer Bob Loblaw.) Baio is rabid right-winger and Hillary hater, who once posted an unflattering picture of Michelle Obama on Twitter and wrote “WOW! He wakes up every morning to this.” He was invited to speak at the convention when he attended a Donald Trump fundraiser,where he introduced himself to Trump, who then randomly invited him to speak. What Donald wants, Donald gets.
Then there was smoking hot Melania Trump, who gave a stirring speech about how wonderful Donald is, and how wonderful she is. It took about seven seconds for the Internet to discover that parts of her speech were lifted, almost word for word, from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention eight years ago. This would have been a one-day wonder, if the Republicans had been smart enough to say, ‘oops, our bad, we’re sorry’. But they concocted a series of denials and lies, adding fuel to a fire that should have burned out in seconds. The worst thing was that the purloined passages were about as bland as Pablum.
Things just kept getting better. During the week, Trump’s adviser on veterans’ affairs said that Hillary Clinton “should be shot” for treason. NJ Governor Chris Christie, completing his not-very-high fall from grace, led the crowd in chants of “GUILTY” about Clinton’s alleged crimes. Trump’s greasy, punchable sons (who, as someone noted, looked like every corporate villain on every 1980s movie) extolled the virtues of their father, without a single anecdote that showed what a great dad he was. On Wednesday, right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham gave what looked like a perfect Nazi salute to Donald Trump. All of that was overshadowed by Ted Cruz (who has won the Ugliest Man in the World contest so often, they should just give it to him) who gave a fiery speech that ended with a non-endorsement of Trump that had the convention in yet another uproar. Did they expect better? Remember, Trump called Cruz ‘Lyin’ Ted’, ridiculed his wife Heidi’s looks, and hinted vaguely that Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination. This is like a high school bully inviting a guy he used to beat up at lunch to speak at his wedding. Cruz is repugnant, but he’s no Chris Christie, and there was no way he was going to back down and grovel at the feet of the god Donald.
Then, finally, the coup de gross – Trump’s acceptance speech. Kim Jong-un couldn’t have done a better job of cataloguing the evils of America. Murderers roam the streets (which are crumbling, by the way). Airports are Third World. Hillary Clinton has committed “terrible, terrible crimes”. Illegal immigrants are killing innocent Americans. The trade deficit is $800 billion (“We’re going to fix that.”) Hillary Clinton is responsible for the rise of ISIS, the Syrian civil war, the takeover of Egypt by Muslims, and chaos in Iraq. At one point, Trump said; “I alone can fix that.”
It was brutal, and awful. Seventy-eight minutes of sustained screaming, punctuated by promises to fix everything from crime to the economy, with no suggested ways of doing such things. It was Trump at full bore, repellent and fascinating at the same time. It ended what was probably the most watched and worst run convention in history. It was so bad that, under normal circumstances (like, say, a year ago) it would have left the party in smoking ruins. But these are not normal times. I am reminded of a classic song from 1966 – 50 years ago – by Buffalo Springfield called ‘For What It’s Worth‘. The opening lyrics go ‘Something’s happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.’ True in 1966, true in 2016.
Meanwhile, in Hillary land …
Hillary Clinton, who will win the presidency when more Americans hold their noses and vote for her than hold their noses and vote for Trump, picked her vice-presidental running made this week, a self-professed “boring” guy named Tim Kaine. He’s a gun control advocate (the NRA hates him), in favour of abortion rights, and speaks fluent Spanish. Alone among the four candidates, he seems like a nice, solid guy that people can get behind. So, all is well with future president Clinton, right?
Wrong. With their convention starting Monday, thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee were leaked (also known as ‘stolen’) that showed the party higher-ups were plotting how to derail Bernie Sanders, perhaps by including references to his religion. The party’s chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, is under pressure to resign, and won’t be allowed to speak at the convention. Whatever happens at the Democratic convention, it will looks like a Sunday school picnic compared to what we just saw in Cleveland.
IOC misses a chance to make a statement
With the Rio Olympic fiasco just days away, the International Olympic Committee missed a beautiful chance to make a bold statement about doping in sports. The IOC was pondering a ban on all Russian athletes going to Rio in the wake of revelations of a massing doping scheme by the highest echelons of Russian sports. But they chickened out; it will be up to each sporting federation to decide if Russian athletes can compete, and with the Olympics just days away, you can bet most will just turn a blind eye and let them go.
And finally this week, spare a thought for the official end of the VCR
The last remaining company that makes VCRs, Funai Electronic, has announced it will stop production of the once-revolutionary home entertainment device. The video cassette recorder, which changed television and movies in ways that are still being felt today, could once be found in 95 per cent of American homes. At one point, Funai sold 15 million of them a year. Last year? Just 750,000.
Garry Marshall, 81, one of the most influential comic minds of recent history. Marshall created or co-created Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy. He directed Beaches, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, The Flamingo Kid, and many others. Genuinely loved by the comedy community … Tom Gould, 84, veteran CTV newsman and anchor … Robert-Ralph Carmichael, 79, likely the most reproduced Canadian artist in history – he drew the loon that adorns the loonie. You can find his initials on every coin.