Saturday, April 13, 2024

Melania Trump lashes out at “mean and manipulative social media”

Although the second night of the Republican National Convention was calmer, with mild attack on the media, Democrats, and what Republicans desperately label as leftist radicals, Melania Trump’s speech stood out for several reasons  

By Kenneth Tiven in USA

Reporter note:  In the interest of honestly dealing with errors and omissions here are thoughts from Daniel Dale, a reputable American fact checker regarding Night 1 of the Republican Political Convention before we deal with Night 2’s story. Dale states, “That was a parade of dishonesty. We had false claims, we had misleading claims, and we had major strategic omissions. We had ‘up is down’ revisionist history on the corona virus and other matters. People say as you know, ‘they all lie. What about the Democrats?’ Look, I sat here in the same spot listening closely to the Democratic Convention. It just was not like this. I think it’s important for us to note when things are not equal and their four nights combined didn’t have the quantity of dishonesty of tonight’s one Republican night. We need to say when this isn’t the same and this isn’t the same.” Readers need to understand that these political gatherings are large theatrical facades that often play fast and lose with objectivity.

With that in mind, this second night was a calmer, less petulant repeat of the attack on the media, Democrats, and what Republicans desperately label as leftist radicals. Their central focus is claiming a terrible fate awaits the nation if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins in November. Not at all coincidental, the Democrats claim a Trump second term will end democracy in America. 

Melania Trump’s speech stood out for several reasons. The president’s wife used the Rose Garden she just replanted. She acknowledged the death of thousands in the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on so many American families including suicides, and drug addiction. This is the only clear reference to 1,80,000 deaths from anyone in two days. An audience with some social distancing and no apparent masks applauded at the end of her speech. However, she criticised mainstream media as well as “how mean and manipulative social media can be” the cruelty of social media, apparently without considering her husband’s use of Twitter to abuse and attack people he does not like. In her smoothly delivered talk, she acknowledged an America that exists outside of simply praising the president.

The extensive use of the White House as the setting for the convention comingles politics and governance breaking traditions and probably federal law. This included an awkward naturalization ceremony and a pardon issued to a felon now leading a movement to help prisoners re-enter society.

Tonight the Trump children on stage were Eric and Tiffany, both of whom heaped praise on their father, but in a tone less arrogant and shrill than that the previous night from Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. Tiffany seemed to speak directly to her dad in saying the media is keeping people “mentally enslaved” to the ideas they deem correct.

Eric’s refrain was “every day my father fights for the people of this country.” When he claimed his father had “defeated Communism and defeated Fascism,” It was unclear a mystery what he meant. The fact checking alarm went off more clearly when he said, “My father on the other hand, delivered the largest tax cuts in American history,” repeating, a claim made dozens of times by the President. It is not. The 1981 Reagan tax cut is the largest as a percentage of the economy and by its reduction to federal revenue. The 2012 Obama cut amounted to the largest cut in inflation-adjusted dollars: $321 billion a year.

The most deliberate attack on Joe Biden came from Florida’s former Attorney General Pam Biondi. Her style was that of a prosecutor, but she is best known for withdrawing Florida’s participation in a lawsuit against Trump University for fraud—right after getting a $25,000 campaign donation from a Trump charity.

In this second night, there seemed to be fewer Biden attacks—except for the Biondi assertions—but more specific attacks on the media for its treatment of Trump and his various associates who have been convicted of breaking the law.

Never mentioned were former Republican Presidents—George H.W.  Bush or his son, George Bush, or Richard Nixon—while others were often cited, especially Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

Context is an important aspect of understanding the roots of false or misleading political statements:

  1. When Eric Trump says that Black unemployment was at historic lows before the pandemic hit, it avoids the fact that Black unemployment remains twice what white unemployment is.
  2. Few people will recall that Trump has falsely claimed multiple times, that the Lobster fishing industry declined under Obama. Trump’s own trade and tariff war that put it into trouble. In June, President Trump ordered the Agriculture Department to provide financial assistance to the lobster industry to offset the effects of China’s retaliatory tariffs that pushed lobster exports to China down by nearly 50%. With this context, the Maine Lobsterman who appeared to praise Trump seemed a bit bizarre, but it’s just the kind of fishy story politicians love to tell.
  3.  Myron Lizner, vice president of the Navajo Nation, applauded Trump putting $8 billion into pandemic relief for hard hit Native American tribes. With context it becomes clear that the original Republican legislation did not include any funding for tribes. A significant portion of the aid is also tied up in court as tribes questioned how the administration chose to divide the funds among various tribes. A federal watchdog is investigating whether a top Interior Department official violated ethics rules when she helped decide how to divide the funds.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, travelling abroad, delivered his support from the rooftop of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem with all the enthusiasm and intensity of a man who did not want to be up at 05:00 local time. He disparaged Iran and China, praised Trump for killing ISIS leaders, claimed Trump averted nuclear disaster with North Korea and applauded the Israel and the United Arab Emirates for agreeing to establish diplomatic relations, which he called a Middle East Peace.

“It is highly unusual, and likely unprecedented, for a sitting Secretary of State to speak at a partisan convention for either of the political parties,” Democrats said, adding, “It appears that it may also be illegal.”

Vice President Mike Pence finally appeared, emphasizing the need for America to talk out its differences, which contrasts with how Trump has approached the presidency.

Republicans appear to be aiming tonight at women—especially suburban women—a voting bloc that Trump’s record and his personal history make more difficult to win than it would be for most presidents. In general this evening feels better produced than the first night.

—The writer has worked in senior positions at The Washington Post, NBC, ABC and CNN and also consults for several Indian channels

Lead image: Twitter


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