Donald Trump is an entertainer, a showman and a television star. And, in the course of his business, he routinely stages elaborate ceremonies — opening golf resorts, Trump-branded hotels and the like. Whatever doubts you rightly harbor about his ability to govern this country, you surely trusted this conservative P.T. Barnum to stage the most spectacular, three-ring Republican circus in memory.
Yet even that modest faith has proved misplaced. The 2016 Republican convention has descended into failure and farce.
Here, I'm not referring simply to the thuggish shutdown of a roll-call vote on the convention rules, Melania Trump's flagrant plagiarism of Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech, Chris Christie's unethical mock trial of Hillary Clinton or Laura Ingraham's chilling, straight-armed salute of Herr Trump.
The Trump team has been unable to stick to the made-for-TV schedule, with bloviating opening acts knocking key GOP stars — like Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst — out of prime time. Ernst spoke instead in front of an embarrassing crowd of thirsty delegates racing for the exits.
Unable to make the trains run on time, Trump has not even been able to keep the lights on, as Quicken Loans Arena was beset Wednesday with glitches and outages that darkened the jumbotron screens behind Trump's son, Eric, during his big speech.
But these amateurish snafus pale in comparison to Trump's most epic fail: the wild lapse in judgment to let Sen. Ted Cruz speak to the convention, without any assurance of an endorsement. Trump allowed himself to be upstaged — at his own convention — by his most formidable rival, who called on viewers to reject hate and "vote your conscience."
The Republican nominee bills himself as an ace negotiator, the maker of great deals. But far from working out an agreement with Cruz to let bygones be bygones, to come together for the sake of defeating Hillary Clinton, he instead let the axe-grinding Cruz on stage — and watched the Texas senator bury that hatchet deep in Trump's back.
A convention intended to shine an unforgiving spotlight on what Republicans perceive as Hillary Clinton's fishy deal-making and deadly missteps in foreign policy, has for three days been overshadowed by a comedy of unforced errors: the candidate's wife cribbing language from a speech praising Trump's nemesis — the black man in the White House, Barack Obama. And a staggering show of disloyalty from a Texas senator nursing a grudge over Trump's insults of his wife and father.
This show was supposed to prove to America that Donald Trump is the candidate of law and order. He's demonstrating, instead, that he's a chaos muppet, unable to lay down the law even at his own nominating convention.
Speakers at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night gave a Nazi-esque salute and likened Donald Trump to a circus man. Watch here.