RNC First-Night wrap-up excerpts
- Elizabeth Bruenig Tim Scott’s speech was well-delivered and powerfully written, but more potent was the fact that he didn’t even have to misquote or disingenuously misinterpret recent remarks and past policies of Joe Biden to call into question Biden’s antiracist bona fides.
- Liz Mair We’re constantly being told that the big Republican star from South Carolina who will have the best shot at becoming the party’s 2024 nominee is Nikki Haley. Tonight proved that conventional wisdom wrong. Tim Scott is the real Republican star out of the Palmetto State.
- Daniel McCarthy Americans don’t like dynasties, as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton found out in 2016. But as George W. Bush and John Quincy Adams show, they sometimes elect a president’s son, and Donald Trump Jr. set himself up as an articulate and bold voice for the new Republican Party, particularly with his call to end forever wars.
- Peter Wehner Watching Nikki Haley launch her 2024 campaign. Her speech was mediocre and misleading, but at this convention, it qualifies as practically Lincoln-esque. Honorable mention goes to the former football star Herschel Walker using the phrase “social justice” — in an affirmative way — at the R.N.C.
- Elizabeth Bruenig Liberals pioneered identity politics with the best of intentions: It really is important to listen to and honor the experiences of people who don’t come from the ranks of the privileged elite. But its vulgar manifestation is eminently exploitable, and with two women of color (Kimberly Guilfoyle and Nikki Haley) stumping for Trump alongside a Black senator (Tim Scott), the G.O.P. has emphatically proven that two can play that game.
- Linda Chavez There was no unifying theme for the evening: a little pandemic, a little “promises kept” and a dash of crazy. Speakers in a nearly empty auditorium seemed more artificial and stilted than Democrats’ Zoom chats. The effort to portray Joe Biden and the Democrats as Marxists, radicals and socialists will fail. There are still real Stalinists in the world, and Trump has been willing to cozy up when it suits him.
- Peter Wehner There are three notable themes that emerged. One is that on the first day of the R.N.C. we witnessed a cult of personality that at times rivaled Jonestown, minus (thankfully) the mass suicide. The second was how fully the R.N.C. has embraced Trump’s inversion of reality. The bolder the deception, the better. Third, a relentless effort to portray Democrats not just as radical but malevolent, committed to destroying America and to relish doing so. The G.O.P. came across as one pissed-off party.