When you think of Donald Trump, is the first phrase that comes to mind “a heart full of gratitude”? Because that’s how he described himself tonight as he accepted the Republican nomination for another four years as president. He later added, “I say, very modestly, I have done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president.” That’s Trump in a nutshell, really, a walking bundle of gratitude and modesty.
Some speech-watchers on Twitter thought Trump’s acceptance address was low energy, but the president seemed to pick up as the speech progressed. Several others thought that it felt a little like a State of the Union Address. People probably made that connection because once a year, President Trump goes into a dramatic location in Washington, with an American flag behind him, reads a well-written speech from a teleprompter to applause, spotlights and thanks some extraordinary Americans, sticks to the script and minimizes his ad-libbing, and generally sounds much more like a traditional president.
And then within a day or two, he goes back to his usual self and gets angry about something he’s seen on television and sends out four tweets about cable-news-network ratings. As noted below, up until 10 p.m. Eastern tonight, the Republican Party and convention organizers did just about everything humanly possible to make the best case for this administration. (Unfortunately, the broadcast and cable-news ratings have been not that great — about 16.5 million viewers across the six networks, compared to 19.5 million for the Democrats; both parties are down by more than 20 percent compared to four years ago.)
And then Ivanka Trump offered a fairly standard-issue introduction, before the president spoke for 70 minutes — which felt longer than that. It was a long speech as it was, and the president ad-libbed more as the speech went on. Just about no issue was left out of the speech, making it tough to discern a coherent theme.
Even worse, it pushed back the visually spectacular finale that the president and his campaign clearly wanted. If you’re going on network television at about 10:25 p.m. or so, and you’ve got an Independence Day–level fireworks bonanza above the White House spelling out “TRUMP 2020” as your finale, as Christopher Macchio sings Nessun Dorma — don’t speak for 70 minutes!