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Second night of RNC is fueled by festering personal rage with the subtext ‘We Hate Hillary Clinton’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

On Tuesday, the theme of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was “Make America Work Again” but the subtext was “We Hate Hillary Clinton.”

Once again the festivities were fueled by the festering personal rage that unites so many disparate groups in reality television, and once again the evening sparkled with oratorical oddities. The president of Ultimate Fighting Championship spoke, as did a professional golfer and former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant and yet another cast member of “The Bold and Beautiful,”  as well as some of Trump’s children.

On Tuesday, however, the lineup also included several of the GOP luminaries who did not decide to skip the convention altogether.

Often accompanied, at least on CNN, by screen crawls detailing their previous denouncements of Trump, few could bring themselves to actually praise Caesar.

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But they were all happy to bury Clinton.  

Indeed, with very few exceptions, Donald Trump spent much of the evening as He Who Must Not Be Named.

In a moment out of Orwell or Oz, Trump himself did appear, beamed onto the enormous screen behind the main podium so he could accept the official nomination. But among the endless parade of speakers addressing the crowds at Quicken Loans arena, he was rarely the topic of conversation.

They were all too busy inciting the convention’s predictable anti-Clinton sentiment to Roman amphitheater-like intensity. The crowd that murmured and rustled impatiently while House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke of ideas came roaring to life when, moments later, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put Clinton on trial.

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Charging her with a list of crimes that stopped just short of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, he repeatedly called on the crowd to pronounce a verdict.

“Guilty or not guilty,” he asked, as if he was the host of a new and chilling reality show, or a member of the Panem elite from “The Hunger Games.”

“Guilty,” they roared, over and over, when they weren’t chanting “Lock her up, lock her up.”

So much for Ryan and his party of ideas.

In the evening’s most unfortunate bit of planning, Tiffany Trump followed Christie. Bravely, she stepped into the din to deliver a sweet and charming speech about her father, whom she clearly experiences as a great dad.

But even her freshness could not dispel the odor of charred flesh that still hung in the air.

She was followed by her brother, Donald Jr., who managed to do what none of the speakers had done: Deliver a speech that praised his father in the context of the actual election. That explained why Republicans could vote for Trump instead of against Clinton. For his father, Donald Jr. said, “Impossible is just the starting point.”

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Which is, no matter how you look at it, a far better campaign slogan than “Lock her up.”

But then even as Twitter, pushed by outcry over the online assault of “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones, finally suspended conservative writer and hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos,  former Trump opponent Dr. Ben Carson took the stage.

To almost literally equate Clinton with the devil.

What any of this has to do with making America work again remains unclear; most exorcists don’t even make minimum wage. 

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