The concluding evening of the Republican National Convention was consistently powerful, though it's denouement -- the president's acceptance speech -- represented a significant missed opportunity in an overall successful four-night program. Trump had the stage to himself, with every broadcast and cable news network carrying his remarks live. Faced with an enormous platform, a polling deficit, and a limited national attention span, President Trump needed to deliver a honed, thoughtfully-crafted, and potent speech. Instead, he meandered for well over an hour, seemingly attempting to cover every subject imaginable, occasionally doubling back to subjects already mentioned. It was a mediocre hybrid of a State of the Union Address and a garden variety campaign rally. The text needed some serious editing, and the delivery could have used more (any?) rehearsing. I tend to agree with this, though my view of Ivanka's speech is more charitable:
Didn’t tweet much about the conventions. Just watched them. Tonight’s programming was by far the most affecting and direct appeal beyond the base. Then it just fell off a cliff with Ivanka, and Trump’s speech was monotonous and unfocused. If anyone saw this, it didn’t help.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) August 28, 2020
The vice president advanced a stronger and more succinct case for another term on Wednesday night. This observation should be taken as a compliment by the RNC and Trump campaign, as it was surely by design:
I can't remember a convention that featured so few traditional politicians and so many "real Americans" including minorities and younger women.— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) August 28, 2020
Relatedly, what I can't get out of my mind after last night are the two speeches that aired prior to the program shifting to the South Lawn. The comments from the devastated parents of a young American woman who was kidnapped, brutalized and executed by ISIS were excruciating but important to hear -- and they reminded voters of one of the Trump administration's greatest legacies to date: Crushing the caliphate and liquidating major terrorist leaders. And the direct-to-camera address from the widow of a retired police officer who was murdered during the recent season of violent riots was perhaps the single most gut-wrenching and moving speech I've ever seen in the context of American politics. May God bless and comfort Ann Dorn, and may we honor the memory of her late husband, David:
Finally, the White House setting was, of course, grand and gorgeous (my thoughts on related controversies are summarized here). The fireworks display was impressive. And the week has to be seen as an achievement. Whether it will move the needle of public opinion remains to be seen. The Trump campaign needs the needle to move, and there are at least some indicators that a tightening might be coming. Stay tuned.