"The system is rigged; Bernie Sanders never had a chance."
No, that wasn't a Bernie bro protesting outside the Democratic National Convention, it was Donald Trump finally officially accepting his party's nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention.
Veering from chant-prompting visions of a law-and-order America striding like a gun-slinging sheriff through a smoldering world run amok to a call to end the assault against the LGBTQ community, Trump cast a very wide net.
So wide that it took him almost 30 minutes of the longest acceptance speech on record to get back to his greatest hits: America comes first, Hillary Clinton is a disaster, NAFTA has to go, illegal immigrants are dangerous.
Then the crowd, which didn't know quite what to do with the Sanders' references, went wild.
Not only did the thematically hop-scotching speech provide the first glimpse of a "presidential" Trump, it offered the perfect end to the most bizarre race in Republican history and certainly one of the more unconventional conventions in recent memory.
As in the Republican race, nothing at the convention went as planned. All the talk of blocking Trump's nomination came to naught, as, mercifully, did fears of violent protest. Melania Trump's much anticipated speech went from triumph to plagiarism controversy in a matter of minutes. Anti-Trump House leader Paul Ryan caved but Ted Cruz didn't. And though no one talked to an empty chair, the string of reality stars, minor-league celebrities and little-known motivational speakers brought its own sense of the bizarre.
Even before a self-described billionaire called himself the voice of the forgotten man, the fourth and final night doubled down on the convention's commitment to expectation defiance.
Jerry Falwell Jr. got the ball rolling by recalling a dream his father had. No, not of a united America, but of Chelsea Clinton asking him to name the three greatest threats to this country. "Osama, Obama and yo mama," he apparently answered. In this dream.
Congressman (as she prefers to be called) Marsha Blackburn explained that it was time for a citizen-politician president because: "Hurt feelings are not qualifiers for leadership; leadership is a record of performance." She and Oklahoma's first female governor Mary Fallin deepened the convention's general air of national paranoia and America's apparent near-suicidal depression. "Our spirits are nearly broken," Fallin assured us.
Even Peter Thiel's appearance was billed as one thing and became another.
The Paypal founder's intention to become the first openly gay speaker at an RNC convention led many to believe that he would chastise the party for its poor record on gay rights and this year's extremely conservative platform. Instead, he prefaced his announcement — "I'm proud to be gay, I'm proud to be a Republican but most of all, I'm proud to be an American" — by dismissing the recent transgender bathroom controversy as a "fake culture war."
But the evening's '"Up Is Down" Award went, in a split decision, to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Ivanka Trump. In a masterful example of silk-purse manufacturing, Priebus turned Trump's controversial and party-dividing win into a "grassroots" victory for the party that "listens to the voters."
Ivanka, meanwhile, more than earned her walk-on music — "Here Comes the Sun" — by stirring Republican delegates to the point that they actually cheered for the notion of affordable childcare and gender-parity in the workplace.
But when she appeared to compare her father to Princess Diana, when she called him "the people's champion" and "the people's nominee," well, in terms of spin and sheer rhetorical brilliance, that's a perfect 10.
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