Jay Fleitman: The political conventions of 2016

  • FILE - In this Friday, July 29, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colo. Trump broke a major American political and societal taboo over the weekend when he engaged in an emotionally-charged feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the bereaved parents of a decorated Muslim Army captain killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He further stoked outrage by implying Ghazala Khan did not speak while standing alongside her husband at last week's Democratic convention because they are Muslim. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

  • FILE - In this July 29, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Denver. As early as this week, Trump and Hillary Clinton will start getting top-secret intelligence briefings from the national intelligence director’s office. This year, though, the more than 60-year-old tradition of providing presidential candidates classified briefings has prompted vicious backbiting between Democrats and Republicans about whether the candidates can keep a secret.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Published: 8/2/2016 11:55:40 AM



I watched both political conventions with the hope that I might come away feeling better about considering a vote for Donald Trump, or that it might be less unseemly if Hillary Clinton is elected president. Neither was the result.

The Democratic convention was clearly the better produced show. The Democrats had a better soundtrack, better coordination of content between one speaker and the next, the more up-tempo message and better quality speech-makers.

The production was only marred by the spectacle of Bernie Sanders capitulating in supporting a candidate who stands for everything he was struggling against, because his distaste for Trump exceeds his distaste for Clinton.

The Republican convention was handicapped by the absence of many of the party's star performers, most of whom sat this out because they had been personally insulted by candidate Trump during the campaign. Though there was no great oration for the Republicans to match the speeches of Michelle Obama, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the Republicans were rewarded with the remarkable presence of Trump's three children.

The Republicans’ show was similarly disrupted by their also-ran candidate, Ted Cruz, who was booed while on stage, as was Sanders. Cruz was harassed by his party members because he failed to support the candidate, contrary to Sanders, who was booed because he did support his party's choice.

This is a telling comment about the relative unity of the parties.

The Democratic convention left to me with the impression that I had been witness to a most audacious deceit, designed by clever lawyers and showmen, intended to mislead the jury, that being the American public.

It started with Bill Clinton's speech, an homage to his and Hillary Clinton's enduring love across the decades. He referred to it as their "long, ongoing conversation." This story does not square with Bill Clinton's affairs or Hillary Clinton's remarks about the women involved.

Bill Clinton's speech took great pains to portray Hillary as the "the greatest change agent I have ever seen," because both parties recognize that the American public is seeking a different direction for national politics.

Somehow, we are meant to buy into Hillary as change when the subsequent speeches of both President Obama and Hillary Clinton were meant to reassure American voters that Clinton's presidency will bring forward Obama's purported accomplishments. And then there is all that money that Hillary Clinton raises from Wall Street, lawyers, and financial institutions.

It was President Obama's speech that required the greatest mental gymnastics. He was upbeat, talking about the greatness of America and all that his presidency had accomplished. He put forward that, yes, there may be a little more work to do, but we have come so far in achieving a fair and prosperous nation.

Did he miss the recent assassinations of police, the anger on the streets of the black community, terrorist attacks on our soil, the economy with the slowest recovery since 1949 and a national debt of over $19 trillion?

Hillary Clinton's speech pointed out the many problems that she would solve if elected president. These include issues of immigration, the loss of jobs, worsening poverty and income inequality. She did not point out that the presidency was in Democratic hands for the last eight years.

Now certainly, we know the rejoinder that any failure of the Obama administration was due to obstructionism on the part of congressional Republicans. We should not ignore the history that Obama enjoyed a Democratic Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and that it was the American public that voted in Republican majorities to the House and Senate and put reins on the Democrats and the president.

What offended me most was Hillary Clinton's depiction of the Republican Party as the party of hate. It is the Democrats who make a show of pitting races and genders against each other to create voting blocs of victims, and then appeal to their victimhood as the party of redress. Minorities are victims, women are victims, gays and lesbians are victims.

What is left unsaid is the identity of the victimizers. Democrats should not wonder why they do so poorly with white males and married white females.

The final charade of the Democratic convention was that of the false controversy around Trump’s comments that he hoped the Russians would find and reveal Hillary Clinton's 30,000 deleted emails. The Democrats called Trump treasonous for suggesting that the Russians engage in hacking. Of course, Clinton's private server is long gone and no longer available to be hacked, and it was Hillary Clinton who used the unsecured server and put the nation's security at risk.

This is one of the few times I agree with Donald Trump. I want to know what's in those 30,000 emails, particularly if a foreign government has them and particularly if there is evidence of influence peddling by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for money contributed to the Clinton foundation. I would hate to think that we had a president who could be blackmailed while in office.

Jay Fleitman, M.D., lives in Northampton. His column appears the first Tuesday of the month. He can be reached at opinion@gazettenet.com.

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