minor celebrities matter

The first night of Donald Trump’s 2016 (Republican Party) Presidential Nominating Convention in Cleveland, Ohio provided more entertainment value than any in living memory. One after another former celebrities, practiced victims and assorted public figures took the stage to throw rhetorical raw meat at a seething pale audience.

Among the highlights were appearances by Marcus Luttrell and Scott Baio. Luttrell because he seemed to call for a civil war here in the United States when he asked, “Who among you are gonna step up and take the fight to the enemy? Because it’s here.” Makes you wonder whether he already has a hit list of fellow citizens that he wants to liquidate. As Dallas and Baton Rouge tragically showed us, other veterans who have returned from the forever war clearly do. Baio because he said nothing memorable but exemplified what Donald Trump and his followers believe will Makes America Great Again: public adulation of Donald Trump. Also, other celebrities declined the opportunity to slot. I would have preferred to hear from Henry Winkler or Mike Ditka but the new rule is that All Minor Celebrities Matter.

Thankfully, a brilliant bit of last minute rescheduling brought retired Lt. General Michael T. Flynn out to calm the crowd before it devoured surviving members of the Colorado delegation. All attention to the podium was ruthlessly if temporarily suppressed. Rather like the Sunni Islamist insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Martian Girl from Mars Attacks!The highlight of the evening was of course Melania Trump’s robotic delivery of much of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic Party Convention. After all the praise lavished on the former fashion model immediately following her speech by television journalists, the subsequent discovery of her naked plagiarism was pure gold. This was all the more entertaining because the same journalists scrambled to blame people in the Trump campaign rather than Slovenian bombshell herself. Call it the Zoolander Defense.

As if all this was not enough merriment for the first night of the convention, we watched as U.S. Representative Steve King from the Iowa 4th Congressional District repeated the Nazi view that whites have made more contributions to civilization than “any other subgroup of people.” By ‘subgroup’ he appears to have meant ‘untermenschen.’ Guess that explains why he allowed himself to be photographed at his desk, on which sits a little Confederate Battle Flag.

Donald Trump’s campaign has three more nights to convince a bemused America that it can run a convention that is something more than entertaining. One that presents the nominee as presidential. Even if it fails to do that, it has provided the youth of this great nation with an invaluable lesson in what to do when you are caught plagiarizing the work of others: deny, deny, deny…and then select a scapegoat. Perhaps that is how the Republican Party plans to Make America Great Again.

Image: Martian Girl from Mars Attacks! (Warner Bros./Promotional) via BuzzFeed.
John Hickman

John Hickman

John Hickman is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Government and International Studies at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where he teaches courses on war crimes, comparative politics, and research methods. He holds both a PH.D. in political science from the University of Iowa and a J.D. from Washington University, St. Louis. Hickman is the author of the 2013 Florida University Press book Selling Guantanamo.