One of the first rules of politics is to limit the number of days that a bad story gets attention.
Heading into the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday night with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
The interview was awful, rightfully described as a train wreck.
During a normal news week, the disastrous interview, which showed Trump completely unprepared and at odds with his running mate on major themes of the campaign, would have made news for days as fact checkers and opinion columnists tore through the transcripts with their highlighters set to “wow, that’s crazy.”
Trump stepped on, over and past Pence, embarrassing himself and the governor.
It would be easy to feel sorry for Pence, who maintained a look of one both secretly appalled at his own life’s decisions that had led him to this uncomfortable position and completely dumbfounded by what was happening to him.
Except no one should feel sorry for Mike Pence.
He was willing to damage the economy of his entire state, to make Indiana the focus of a national backlash, to alienate thousands of good people all in defense of an indefensible law intended only to allow discrimination against gay and transgender people.
And he’s consistently targeted abortion rights and tried to limit the ability of women to make their own health care decisions.
For that, he has earned the suffering of 100 campaign days in the shadow of Donald Trump and his race-baiting, misogynistic and bigoted campaign. Perhaps it’s Pence’s penitence for his sins against others.
But, lo and behold, the interview, the contradictions and the awkwardness were completely overshadowed.
The first night of the Republican National Convention was a nightmare brought to life — both for the Republican Party and anyone who was unfortunate enough to tune in.
The night, called “Make America Safe Again,” featured speaker after speaker airing their grievances, their fears and their frustrations. The convention appeared to manipulate the survivors of violent crime and war and used them to target groups, mainly immigrants and people of color, as the source of their sorrow.
The underlying message was one of loathing and blame: Whatever your gripe, you can bet it is someone from away, empowered by presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and President Obama, who is to blame.
Again, the anger and fact-free free-for-all on display Monday night would have likely dominated news coverage, but…. There’s always a “but” with Trump.
But the candidate’s wife, Melania, took the stage and delivered a well-received and thoughtful speech. Unfortunately it just happened to plagiarize a speech delivered by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Hard-core supporters won’t be swayed by something as egg-headed as plagiarism, but any hope at creating a narrative for undecided voters was lost.
Plagiarism in the age of the Internet is certainly more common — and easier to detect than ever before — but it’s still a serious problem and demonstrates the Trump campaign’s disregard for details and for the rules.
Trump officially won the nomination of the Republican Party on Monday night. But instead of marching into Cleveland and through the first nights of the convention as a candidate who has unified his party after a contentious primary, Trump has staggered in like a man in a stupor, clumsily jamming one foot just barely in front of the other.
The normal rules of politics would suggest that Trump is doomed — and eventually, I think his campaign will collapse under the weight of its backwards ideology and ugliness — but the rules of politics don’t seem to apply this campaign.