Thursday, July 21, 2016

The coronation of a demagogue

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:34 PM

Scuttlebutt is spreading among reporters who have seen embargoed copies of Donald Trump's scheduled speech tonight to accept the Republican nomination for president. 

News reports initially circulated that George W. Bush speechwriters Matthew Scully and John McConnell were involved in writing it (Jonathan Alter claimed that sources said it was "presidential"), but Scully and McConnell almost immediately denied involvement. Eric Trump, the candidate's son, said that the speech was mostly written by the Donald himself — unlikely, given the candidate's work habits and linguistic limitations. Perhaps this time the campaign will make sure that no bits are plagiarized. 

*** UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reports that Stephen Miller is the main speechwriter, working with Trump, Trump’s son in law, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Costa writes that “Miller’s writing is known for its populist flair, nationalist phrasing and focus on law-and-order issues, especially crime and immigration.” ***

Regardless of what the text says, Trump will surely do a fair amount of ad libbing (will he be able to resist slamming Lyin' Ted one last time?). Those whose fealty to party has brought them to cheer for this man might shudder now to think what he might say — what they might be party to. 

Reports have been floating for some time that Trump will be looking to channel Richard Nixon from '68. Jobs are up and crime is down but the convention has nevertheless been shrouded in apocalyptic foreboding. Trump has found his groove in a nationalist, white-populist politics of resentment and alarm. I remain skeptical that it's a winning message in a general election in 2016. But demagogues can do plenty of damage even going down in flames. 

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