I watched the opening night of the Republican convention, starting out on Fox News. But I couldn’t stand how the network ignored what was happening onstage, instead giving us endless boring arguments between its own personalities, so I switched to CNN, which was at least slightly better.
I made a number of notes through the early part of the evening, but most of them now seem forgettable. Marcus Luttrell and Sheriff David Clarke were fiery and inspiring. Tom Cotton is a good and improving speaker, but he has not yet mastered the art of talking to TV cameras in an arena. [UPDATE: To be fair, I didn’t really see much of Cotton’s speech. It was because Fox kept switching away from it that I turned to CNN. Paul thinks Tom was good, and he is probably right. I was implicitly contrasting Cotton’s relatively low-key style with Giuliani’s stemwinder, which I think illustrated an effective arena style.] Rudy Giuliani was terrific: the CNN hosts’ suggestion that he was “scary” and “over-caffeinated” reflects, I think, their fear that a lot of people might have been watching.
But all of that was mere prelude. The highlight of the evening was Melania Trump. Donald started it off by coming onstage to “We Are the Champions,” just to drive his enemies crazy. He introduced Melania briefly, and a star was born. Seriously. There may have been a teleprompter on the premises, but Melania knew her speech cold. English is not her first language, but she deployed it effectively. What came through was her steely immigrant temperament, the quality that brought her from Slovenia to New York City. If you are looking for a strong woman, she puts Hillary in the shade.
Is a wife’s vouching for her husband meaningless? Perhaps so, but Melania’s exotic quality and the fact that we have not previously heard much from her commanded attention. I think that in the eyes of most viewers, she gave Donald a real boost. The CNN commentators thought so too, with Anderson Cooper in awe and a couple of Clinton operatives trying desperately to find a negative, or at least neutral, spin.
The conventional wisdom is that a vice-presidential candidate rarely has any impact on an election. A candidate’s spouse, presumably, has much less. But we haven’t seen the last of Melania Trump. As I said, I think a star was born tonight, and we will see much more of her between now and November. Unless I am badly off the mark, she will be very popular, and not just with Republicans.
STEVE adds: Seems to me this is worth repeating this Power Line original creation from our WIP a couple weeks back—
UPDATE: My thoughts on the plagiarism “scandal” are here.