Ramblings on the Republican National Convention, Night 1

I watched some of the Republican National Convention last night.

At first, it was rather sleepy.  As far as I can see, Willie Robertson and Scott Baio got scattered, tepid applause.

Then Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy Seal, spoke, and he brought down the house.  At first, he fumbled through his speech, but then he said that he would forget about his prepared remarks and speak from the heart.  The audience responded with thunderous applause.  A lot of what he said consisted of patriotic platitudes.  He made good points, though, about thinking about others besides ourselves.  Why did the audience respond so well to him?  Maybe they liked his heroism, or his books, or just someone being real, for a change.

Then there was Pat Smith’s speech.  Pat Smith’s son, Sean, died in the Benghazi attack, and Pat is holding Hillary Clinton personally responsible.  Pat said that her son called the day before the attack and said that security was being withdrawn, and he couldn’t find out why.  Pat also said that, at her son’s funeral, Hillary Clinton blamed the attack on a video.  Implicitly, Pat was criticizing the contradictory statements that the Obama Administration made soon after the attack.  Pat contrasted Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump, who speaks his mind and his heart.  The speech was very emotional, and many in the audience had tears.

Pat Smith’s speech was similar to other speeches last night, in that many of the speeches were from people who lost family, and they were blaming the loss on the Obama Administration.  One lady blamed her son’s death in Afghanistan on the military’s restrictive policies, which she said hindered the troops from getting the job done.  There were people whose family members were killed by illegal immigrants.

There were also African-American speakers who were saying that blue lives matter.  And, while the audience was mostly white, there were some African-Americans in the audience, cheering.  In contrast to the 2012 GOP convention, however, I did not see too many Hispanics.

Melania Trump was trying to portray her husband as an inclusive, compassionate sort of person.  She said that he would represent people of all religious faiths, including Islam.  She noted that, as a businessman, he worked with people of different faiths.  She also promoted new programs to help the poor.  These were surprising things to hear at a Republican convention, especially when the candidate became popular after criticizing illegal immigration and proposing a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

Interestingly, even Giuliani’s speech tried, on some level, to distant the party from Islamophobia.  He made the point of criticizing radical Islam.  But, for the benefit of the media (and that’s what he said, not me), he said that does not include all of Islam, or even most Muslims.

A commentator said that the Republicans in the prime-time part of the convention try to speak to the mainstream of America.  Maybe that was what was going on with the speeches by Melania and Giuliani.  At the same time, I would not be surprised if there is some inclusivist side to Donald Trump, since he has had to work with different people in the past, and he probably respects talent wherever he can find it, whatever that person’s background.

I read different things last night, in an attempt to fact-check what was said.  What exactly happened at Benghazi?  What are the crime statistics regarding illegal immigrants?  What restrictive policies was that one mother criticizing?

On Benghazi, would Hillary Clinton deliberately withdraw security from Benghazi, so people would die?  I have my doubts, since that wouldn’t make her look good, but I have not read up on the conspiracy theories.  But, at most, the speakers at the convention (at least Giuliani) seemed to be accusing her of negligence.  I have read a variety of things: the security was not ordered to stand down but to wait for provisions; that security was withdrawn before the attack because it was deemed unnecessary; that the government wanted to keep the Benghazi site a secret (Andrea Mitchell said something like that, as I recall); and that Republican cut-backs resulted in the lack of security at Benghazi.

On crime statistics and illegal immigrants, I read both sides.  I heard someone say a while back that many illegal immigrants try to keep the law, since, if they are arrested, they may face a greater chance of deportation.  They want to keep under the radar, as much as possible, and that is an incentive to keep the law.  That makes some sense to me.

On the military restrictions, I read on a right-wing site that they relate to protecting allies and civilians.  Some may say that President Obama here is putting American lives at risk in seeking to appease other countries.  But we are in Afghanistan, other people’s land, so shouldn’t we try to avoid killing civilians there?

These are just thoughts, and I’m sure they can be nitpicked.

At least there is a convention to watch!  The Donald got speakers!  People were wondering if that would happen.

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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