“Disastrous,” “Embarrassing”: Media Analyze The GOP Convention’s “Very Bad First Day” 

Media declared the Republican National Convention’s opening day “embarrassing,” “lawless,” and “disastrous” after witnessing scheduling errors, inter-party attacks, fighting delegates and Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech.

Republican National Convention Suffers Divisive Launch

NY Times: Republican National Convention Opens With “Rancor And Hard-Edged Attacks.” The New York Times reported that based on the first day, the Republican National Convention was “shaping up to be the most bitterly divided” convention in recent history. The Times’ Jonathan Martin and Patrick Healy reported that delegates erupted in a floor fight that sought to “embarrass” presumptive nominee Donald Trump, that Trump’s top aide attacked Ohio Gov. John Kasich for not endorsing Trump, and that the tone of the convention’s first day was dominated by “rancor and hard-edged attacks.” From the July 18 article:

Rancor and hard-edged attacks dominated the start of the Republican National Convention on Monday as speakers branded Hillary Clinton as a liar who deserved to be in prison and two African-American Republicans ridiculed the Black Lives Matter movement.

The divisive day even swept up the presumptive nominee, Donald J. Trump. Renegade delegates forced a floor fight in an effort to embarrass him, and his top aide called Ohio’s governor “petulant” for not endorsing Mr. Trump.


Earlier in the day, the spectacle of open revolt on the convention floor was not just humiliating for Mr. Trump during a traditionally celebratory week. It also showed that he was struggling to pass his first important test at the convention: presenting a unified party as he begins the general election campaign against Hillary Clinton.


The convention is shaping up to be the most bitterly divided since 1992, when some Republicans excoriated President George Bush for raising taxes, and Patrick J. Buchanan drew applause from delegates and scowls from Bush campaign officials by declaring that “a religious war” and “cultural war” were underway for the soul of America. [The New York Times, 7/18/16]

Media Declare Convention “Disastrous,” “Humiliating”

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait: The GOP’s “Substantive Foundation For Its Message Had Collapsed.” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait wrote that the GOP arrived at its national convention “politically split” and “badly deprived of first-rank political talent.” In a July 18 article, Chait wrote that prominent party figures who skipped the convention to avoid “a stench of Trumpism after November” were replaced by speakers who were “obscure, crazy, obscure and crazy, or Melania Trump” and that the party’s “foundation for its message had collapsed.” Chait wrote: 

The Republican Party came into its convention in Cleveland politically split — less over policy than over the personal fitness of Donald Trump to serve as president. The purpose of the first night of the convention was to remind Republican loyalists of the fundamental identity markers that bind them to their party, regardless of its nominee: the maintenance of traditional social hierarchies bound by respect for authority. But two obstacles were immediately apparent.

The first was that the elite schism had left Trump’s party badly deprived of first-rank political talent to deliver its message. Fearing that their appearance in Cleveland would leave them with a stench of Trumpism after November, the party’s brightest lights mostly steered clear. Trump had insisted speakers were lining up for the chance to orate on his behalf, but all the evidence pointed in the opposite direction. The celebrities Trump had floated — Tom Brady, Jack Nicklaus — were nowhere to be found. Instead, his message was carried by a series of speakers who were obscure, crazy, obscure and crazy, or Melania Trump, who couldn’t very well say no.


The larger problem faced by the party was that the substantive foundation for its message had collapsed. For most of the postwar era, anticommunism supplied the basis for Republicans to demonstrate their manful authority. Eight or 12 years ago, the Iraq War and 9/11 — Republican rhetoric treated the two events as essentially synonymous — filled that role. But the collapse of the Iraq War, which has grown so unpopular Trump pretends to have opposed it from the beginning, left a void where the party’s agenda was supposed to reside. Incredibly, Rudy Giuliani managed to deliver an entire speech without even mentioning 9/11. There is not even a story of the candidate’s personal bravery or service, not even in something like the Texas National Guard, on which to hang a myth of the candidate as manly protector of the nation. [New York, 7/18/16]

NY Times’ Frank Bruni: Opening Night “Wasn’t The Star-Studded, Gee-Whiz Show” Trump Promised. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote that the Republican National Convention in Cleveland reflected Trump’s candidacy: “visceral, rambling, sporadically mesmerizing, occasionally baffling, brimming with contempt for Hillary Clinton and beset by divisions within the G.O.P.” He said the convention “wasn’t the star-studded, gee-whiz show” Trump promised, which he said reflects Trump, who has a “grand” sales pitch “even when the product is anything but.” From the July 18 article:

But why should Donald Trump’s coronation be any tidier than his campaign? He indulges his whims. He goes with his gut. And the opening of the Republican National Convention here was a mirror of the man: visceral, rambling, sporadically mesmerizing, occasionally baffling, brimming with contempt for Hillary Clinton and beset by divisions within the G.O.P.

It wasn’t the star-studded, gee-whiz show that he once promised, and this, too, reflected Trump. His sales pitch is grand, even when the product is anything but. [The New York Times, 7/18/16]

Wash. Examiner Editorial: “Convention Devolved Into Lawlessness,” “Chaos.” The Washington Examiner’s editorial board wrote that GOP leaders, who had hoped to promote a message of law and order, found themselves in a hard place after  the convention “devolved into lawlessness.” The board wrote that “arbitrary rule and bullying by those in charge only increase contempt for authority and erode respect for law in general.” From the July 19 editorial:

Monday night's speeches at the Republican convention were designed in advance to highlight the GOP as a party of law and order in an age when the rule of law is under threat from Islamic and anti-police terrorism.

But the GOP can hardly claim such a mantle after their convention devolved into lawlessness on Monday afternoon. The party leaders, determined to run the convention like it was their own banana republic, may learn a hard lesson about the rule of law, similar to the one that applies to the civil order in general. Arbitrary rule and bullying by those in charge only increase contempt for authority and erode respect for law in general.

Monday's chaos began when party leaders attempted to suppress a motion by mostly anti-Trump (but also some pro-Trump) delegates to hold a formal roll call vote on the party's rules. These delegates, following the official procedures enough submitted signatures — amounting to a majority of at least nine state delegations, but possibly as many as 11 based on various claims on the floor — to trigger a roll call vote. [Washington Examiner, 7/19/16]

Politico Report: “Trump’s Disastrous Day One.” In an article titled, “Trump’s disastrous Day One,” Politico reporters Shane Goldmacher, Ben Schreckinger and Katie Glueck wrote that Trump supporters speaking at the Republican National Convention “painted a dark and dystopian portrait of an America in decline” but gave “little talk of ideology or policy.” The article also highlighted “schedule malfunction[s]” that had Trump “trampling all over” convention speakers and left prominent GOP speakers addressing a “shockingly empty arena.” From the July 18 article:

Donald Trump’s supporters painted a dark and dystopian portrait of an America in decline on Monday, as a parade of people spoke about a country slipping from their grasp, cops getting gunned down in the streets, and their family members slain by illegal immigrants.

But a self-inflicted scheduling blunder — the Trump campaign put the evening’s headliner, Melania Trump, well before the prime-time hour ended — had the networks turning away before the precious hour of free TV had been used up. Worse, her speech bore a striking resemblance to a Michelle Obama speech from 2008.

People inside the hall streamed for the exits as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn droned on, and NBC wrapped up its hour, after some banter between its anchors, with a shot of a shockingly empty arena.

It was a rough end to a day that began with Trump’s campaign feuding with the popular Republican governor of Ohio, and that featured shouting and jostling on the convention floor as the party tried to stamp out the last embers of the Never Trump campaign. All day, cable news chyrons spoke of disunity and chaos.

On stage, there was a red-meat buffet of raw emotion for an angry Republican electorate, with little talk of ideology or policy. Indeed, there were more mentions of fallen American soldiers than of conservatism. [Politico, 7/18/16]

NBC’s Mike Murphy: Republicans Had “A Very Bad First Day.” NBC political commentator Mike Murphy told Today host Savannah Guthrie that between “waging war with the governor of Ohio,” “tough tactics on the [convention] floor,” and the fact that Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized added up to Republicans having “a very bad first day.” From the July 19 edition of NBC’s Today:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): Let's keep this in perspective, OK? It's not Watergate. There's no evidence that [Melania Trump] herself is responsible for any plagiarism, but to you, Mike, what does this signal about the campaign? What do you think this does to the convention?

MIKE MURPHY: Well, if you look at the first 24 hours, the opening move was a war with the governor of Ohio, who's hosting the convention, followed by the Colorado steamroller and tough tactics on the floor, and then we rolled into the speech writing team of Xerox and Conoco, who I don't think are going to be with the campaign anymore. It was a very bad first day. But what counts in one of these conventions is Trump's speech later. That's the big moment. If they do good, it'll help them. If not, they're in trouble.

MATT LAUER (CO-HOST): And if that begins with “ask not what your country can do for you,” we're in very big trouble. Let's talk about what Paul Manafort said --

NICOLLE WALLACE: Not a joke in this cycle, though.

LAUER: Let's talk about what Paul Manafort said this morning. He said, “There's no cribbing, there was no copying.” He doubled down, basically. Do you agree with that strategy?

WALLACE: I do not agree with that strategy. There clearly aren't press folks at the table making strategic decisions because you never subject a spouse to that. You get a spouse in and out of political controversy as quickly as possible because a spouse is largely immune from the kinds of partisan attacks that come at a political figure. People root for a wife or a kid of a politician, and instead of letting her sort of get in and out of this scandal quickly, they're going to guarantee that the campaign spends all day talking about whether or not she plagiarized Michelle Obama's speech, which it certainly looks like she did. [NBC, Today, 7/19/16]

Ron Fournier: “Trump And His Four-Day Infomercial Are About To Become Laughingstocks.” Ron Fournier wrote in The Atlantic that unless Trump can figure out “how to manage an enterprise far smaller and less complicated than the U.S. government” the Republican National Convention and his candidacy will become “laughingstocks.” In a July 19 article, Fournier reported that Trump’s problems -- a plagiarized speech, attacks on Ohio’s governor, and poor organization -- “turned to disaster.” Fournier noted that Trump’s campaign problems seem to be a trend, stating “Disastrous Day One followed a botched rollout of Trumps vice-presidential nominee.” Fournier wrote:

Trump and his four-day infomercial are about to become laughingstocks—unless he quickly figures how to manage an enterprise far smaller and less complicated than the U.S. government.

A divisive first day of the GOP presidential convention turned to disaster late Monday night when the denizens of social media discovered that the candidate’s wife, Melania Trump, had plagiarized Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.


Trump’s problems in Cleveland go far deeper than a plagiarized keynote address. It all started with Manafort telling multiple TV interviewers early Monday that Ohio Governor John Kasich was “embarrassing” his state for ducking the convention. Kasich is popular in Ohio, and Trump almost certainly can’t win the White House without winning the state.

Then the party’s divisions spilled out on the convention floor Monday afternoon, as rebellious anti-Trump delegates were silenced by the candidate’s forces and a compliant Republican National Committee staff. They rigged the system.

At night, speakers cast Trump as a law-and-order candidate in the tradition of Richard Nixon, whose successful 1968 campaign divided Americans among racial lines. The celebrity billionaire candidate had promised a good show, but the first night of his convention was so poorly organized the delegates streamed out of the arena during the final two speeches, which ran past the magic 11 p.m. hour for television coverage. [The Atlantic, 7/19/16]

Red State’s Jay Caruso: “Such An Embarrassing Spectacle At The Convention Yesterday. Ends With Plagiarism That Trump Camp Is Totally Denying This AM.”

[Twitter.com, 7/19/16]

Mic’s Emily Cahn Mocks Republican Party Leader Reince Priebus After Day One Of Republican National Convention.

[Twitter.com, 7/19/16]