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On the Make in America Again (R Con 4)

July 21, 2016

Let me introduce myself: “I’m a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican, in that order”—that’s what Pence hangs his political hat on, and that’s how he plays it—in the style of the Midwestern Protestant Christian, especially the head of the family, but echoed in miniature by the wife. It’s in the way they stand. Humble, confident, wary, exclusive, secret. You can see it in the stunned eyes of the wives and children.

Christians in that mold are “conservative.” Their authoritarian, upright, salt-of-the-earth lifestyle defines conservative, like the town banker in a 19th century farming community.

The Pence image is a short-haired solidity, with calm, unbendable strength of conviction. Republics are down to earth people and very stable politicians. In IN that means, traditionally, cornbread and corn bred. Gosh darnit. Good humored, joyless, hyper-sincere schmaltz. You praise my kids and I’ll praise yours. We all go to the same church here, let’s get along, there could be a tornado, Jesus loves us.  The banker knows that that’s the “art of the deal.”

Pence’s uses on the ticket are to bring in the Evangelicals (minus Cruz), and play straight man to Trump’s King Klown.

His story is of redemption, deliverance, salvation—what he offers America at this moment. He’s working class, the child of a carpenter and a pregnant woman [he didn’t say that], a born-again Republican, saved from the idolatry of early admiration for JFK and MLK, by “the Reagan revolution.”

It was men such as Pence about whom Jesus said to watch their actions, not their words or facial expressions, because their actions will tell you who they are.

As for his words—which were his act for the convention—I thought My Man Mike did an excellent job.

He’s a terrific showman, really, who can shift emotion, face, and voice on a dime. He played the crowd well, keeping eye contact with both audiences, using his hands sparingly, conservatively, but effectively in gestures of power. He entered into conversation by using schmaltzy, nonthreatening facial expressions that ask for understanding and affirmation. You know what I mean? You know what I mean.

His job was to introduce himself, glorify the presidential candidate, tear the opponent to shreds, whip up the crowd, motivate the party faithful by reminding them why they’re so upset, show his loyalty to the party (which serves him well, whatever he’s doing between now and 2020), energize the base, reinforce the belief of new T voters, and appeal to the middle of the road, Indy, and undecided voters who are leaning R.

He turned each of those tasks into an opportunity to make himself look like a Republican President.

Drumpf himself will bring in the old Reagan Dems, the Midwest and Mideast white working class who once had economic security. As P put it, “the Democratic party has abandoned those it used to protect.”

“This is a time of choosing,” he said. The options and the urgency are clear. Will you step up to the altar? [He didn’t say that.]

But wait!, normally the Pence image is the Republican, stable—even regressive—status quo; but today, many voters are looking for change. Somehow the Dems must be made to represent the status quo. How? Ah yes, it’s Hillary who doesn’t change. She’s everyone who won’t get out of the way. Obama. Washington insider. Corruption. The Clinton machine.  ISIS on the loose.

“But then Donald Trump came along. . . .This good man.” I saw him preaching to the multitudes. [P didn’t say that last sentence.]

We can do better. Conservative law and order is the real status quo, the one defended by the thin blue line of enforcers, the Constitution with its limited government, the world’s strongest legions, a conservative Supreme Court, the sanctity of human life, the 2nd Amendment.

“The world is spinning apart.” O/C is “weakness in the face of evil.” T will “lead from strength.” “Israel” (Adelson).

Then the Pledge of Allegiance, like a Republican mantra (they spontaneously say it along with him, and I think it surprised him, pleasantly), “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all” (of us here tonight, and Republicans everywhere). It’s his pledge of allegiance to the party, his pledge to serve prayerfully. He has faith in “the capacity of the American people” and he believes that “God can still heal this land.”

A few other thoughts:

(1) Hillary in the Hands of an Angry God. You have to understand the Evangelical Puritan take on Calvinism, the eager presence of the Devil and the inequality of distribution of God’s love: an ideal libertarian God, Who knows everything and therefore is capable of choosing freely, has offered love to all, originally, but finds Himself rejected by la foule. But a few of us are His. I have chosen Him and He has chosen me. We walk and talk together. You had your chance. Too bad, but don’t blame me. Behave yourself.

(2) Ted Cruz [I haven’t heard his entire speech] refused to endorse, instead saying, “Vote your conscience” (and got booed for suggesting that Republicans vote their conscience). Here’s the thing: from his point of view, it was like the crowd was shouting, “Give us Barabbas.” The crowd had out their knives. But Trump had humiliated Cruz, calling him a pathological liar with an ugly wife. He wanted to get rid of Cruz, or at least obtain his irrevocable fealty, on his knees. To stand on that stage and endorse would be like a baron who gives his king the right to his bed and the next day goes into battle to defend the king’s honor. Commentators said that if Cruz couldn’t endorse, he should have just stayed away, like Kasich did (in his own state!, self-exiled, somewhere across the channel, where he hopes to gather forces). But K chose to align his fortunes with the ancien régime of the party, who expect to be around when T goes down. Cruz can’t do that, because he isn’t part of that clique. But having shown up, when T goes down Cruz can say, “See—but you voted your conscience like I said, so that’s okay.”

But as Eric Trump put it:  “be true to yourself,” vote for his dad.

(3) What a difference a Pence makes: Scott Walker and Marco Rubio made appearances, to pretend to idolize the Drumpf. They were there (R by video) because Pence on the ticket signals that the future, or at the least a viable future, of and in the party includes Koch Bros support. Even if Drumpf wins, he will not be sole owner of the party (and in fact, he is blowing it around that he will put the Penseroso familia in charge of the nation, like his prime minister or enforcer). The senators are two of the blind mice of the KBI political empire (there are others); the Kochs wanted them there and they knew it.

(4) Q: You’ve called the Republican party the American Racist and Fascist Party. Does that mean Pence is a racist and fascist? A: Do mules have ears? Do snakes have bellies?  (I know, sorry, I’m insulting mules and snakes.  They don’t deserve it.)

(5) Daughter H was telling me about friends who are working many jobs but don’t have dental insurance so when a tooth goes from bad to worst they have to go to the emergency room for oral surgery.

I don’t know, it just seems relevant.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking.

[Update, a few hours later:  btw (since nobody is likely to read this far down the page), I lay down for a short rest and fell into a (day)dream that Trump completely cracked and was replaced by the party with Pence, who will select his running mate.  Just sayin.

Oh, but at about 4 this a.m. I vaguely awoke, realized that I had been dreaming, registered the dream as interesting, rolled over, and immediately lost all trace of the dream, except I remembered that I had been dreaming.  Darn.  Well, maybe the “message” was, Forget it.  Hmmm, probably not.]

[Update:  Pence campaign speech on Aug 31.]

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