Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


From ‘Lock her up!’ to a weird Lucifer link: RNC’s night 2 focuses on Clinton

REUTERS/Mike Segar
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduced the shtick of finding Clinton guilty by saying, “Let’s have some fun tonight.”

One of the overriding themes of Night Two of the Republican convention is that Hillary Clinton is a criminal who should be in prison. Perhaps you already know that the crowd eagerly seizes every opportunity to chant “lock her up.” “Her” is Clinton.

There’s something quite disturbing about this. There have been faux democracies where, if you lose an election, you may get thrown into prison. I hope we are not becoming one of those kind of democracies.

Chris Christie, in the speech that got the most raucous reaction, actually asked the assembled Repubs to vote Clinton “guilty” or “not guilty” on eight different “charges.” These were mostly not actual criminal charges, but metaphorical ones, like being such a poor secretary of state that her failures could be considered “crimes.” He introduced the shtick of finding Clinton guilty by saying, “Let’s have some fun tonight.” But I absolutely do not doubt that a huge portion of Republicans believe that Clinton has committed literal crimes for which she should be locked up, notwithstanding the end of the official investigation into her email practices.

(If you missed this Christie shtick and want to see it, it’s available here.)

Christie, like many of the speakers last night, spent about 10 times more of his presentation talking about Clinton than talking about Trump. Other than the two speeches by Trump’s biological children, most of the speakers spent more time talking about Clinton than about Trump. And perhaps I should make clear, the range of the comments about Clinton ran from harsh to hateful.

I don’t doubt that something similar will occur next week in reverse. I can easily recall a time when most major party politicians maintained a tone of studious civility, bordering on respect, when discussing their opponents in public.

It is often said (and there’s really no disputing it, if you think polls measure such things) that there’s never been an election pitting two such disliked and mistrusted candidates. You could say that’s about things that are actually known or believed about Trump and Clinton. But it’s more than that. This level of polarization is dangerous, and no one seems to have a serious idea of how to move back in the direction of at least feigned respect.

I confess that it’s a struggle for me to write respectfully about Mr. Trump, but I actually do believe that’s somewhat based on his own conduct and statements. It would give me great pleasure to be able to write respectfully about more of our leading political figures.

Ryan talks policy

Speaker Paul Ryan took a step in this direction last night, as he generally does. On tone, he’s pretty Old School, which I appreciate. But he did make a reference to the “other [unnamed] party” as the force in our politics that is trying to divide Americans by race and class and gender and ethnicity.

He suggested that Republicans have coherent detailed plans on taxes and health care that I’m skeptical they actually have. He called for “a reformed tax code that rewards free enterprise, not just enterprising lobbyists. A reformed health-care system that operates by free choice instead of by force.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan
House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested that Republicans have coherent detailed plans on taxes and health care.

Ryan has talked for years now about a Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and there are some ideas in existence but – even though Republicans control the House and have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act many times – the Republican caucus has never produced a bill that could be scored fully so the country might learn how much their alternative plan would cost and how it would be paid for, how it would work, what would be covered, and how many people would gain or lose health insurance.

Still, Ryan comes a lot closer than Trump ever has in outlining the plans for which he would advocate. Ryan, who has long said he will support Trump but only because he views a Trump presidency as preferable to a Hillary Clinton presidency, managed to get through his 12-minutes-plus talk and mention Trump’s name just twice.

You can watch Ryan’s whole speech at the bottom of this link.

The night’s weirdest presentation

The weirdest presentation of the evening was by neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who was briefly a front-runner for the Republican nomination. How weird? Carson made a very weird effort to link Clinton to some kind of devil worship. Yes, weird as it sounds, you read that right.

Carson said that, as a college student, Clinton had admired the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, who wrote a famous book called “Rules for Radicals.” It turns out that in the introduction to that book, Alinsky acknowledged Lucifer. So, Carson asked the assembled Republicans:

“Do we want as our president someone who has a role model who is someone who acknowledges Lucifer?”

Seems a tad desperate to me, but what do I know? Politifact did a fact-check on Carson’s claim and if you read that, you’ll know what you need to know.

The Commentariat generally seemed impressed with the talk by Donald Trump Jr., the magnate’s eldest child. And they seemed to think the youngest daughter Tiffany, who is just out of college, was sweet and helpful in humanizing the nominee.

And, speaking of the nominee, I almost forgot to mention: After a certain amount of last-minute drama over whether everyone who was pledged to vote for Trump had to do so, he did win the nomination and Mike Pence was unanimously (without a real vote) accepted as his running mate. Gov. Pence will speak tonight and the Donald himself on Thursday.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 07/20/2016 - 10:22 am.

    Well there you have it.

    The Republican Party has hit rock bottom. They can do their election autopsy but it won’t make any difference because they claim their values and principles are right on the mark and there isn’t any need for change. They have the candidate they have worked so hard to get for decades. They have reached for the bottom of the barrel with their divisive issue after divisive issue, their repeal attempt after repeal attempt, their shutting down the government because they didn’t get their way, fabricating the need to go to war, their continual transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, their claims of unconstitutionality without any proof, a my way or the highway approach to negotiating, and the list goes on. They thought they had reached the bottom of the barrel when they had George W. Bush, but low and behold they have found a new bottom, Donald J. Trump. George W. Bush might be right this time. He just might be the last Republican president. The new party will be called the phoenix party as it rises from the ashes of the Republican Party. It will be made up of all of those smart enough to stay away from the 2016 convention. Republicans don’t make changes because they claim their values and principles right on the mark so the phoenix party will just be a name change. The party will be run by new faces such as Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain who happen to look a lot like the old faces.

    Bring on the debates which will remove all doubt that the Republican Party has reach rock bottom. I can’t imagine what words will come leaping from Trump’s lips when it come to the issues that really matter to America. The bloviating will continue because that is what Trump excels at, but don’t expect to understand what Trump stands for because he doesn’t have a reliable set of core beliefs. His core is totally surrounded by whatever will get him the most attention. Good attention, bad attention, it doesn’t matter as long as he gets attention. His self-centeredness is his guiding light. What the country needs is not a concern of Trump.

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 07/20/2016 - 10:42 am.

    my memory..

    …of the Clinton presidency and the time of Gingrich as speaker is that that is when the Republicans first instituted the method of exaggeration, name calling and distorting to the point of lying, I recall that several of the moralists who went after the impeachment were later found to be adulterers themselves One of them was also the guy who was just convicted in trying to make payoffs to hide his pedophilia.

    Didn’t the “scandals” start with whitewater? Then there was the “murder” of Vince Foster. With all the powerful people who hate the Clintons and who subscribe to all these crimes and conspiracies, after all these investigations, you think that at some point, if any of this was real, there would have been an indictment or trial or something. Which leads me to believe there never was any substance to this. And then give Faux news 20 years to propagandize this and you get the majority of Republicans believing that Hillary is a murder and the other charges.

    But once you demonize someone it becomes impossible to compromise with them. Can’t compromise with the devil. Expect 4 more years of road blocks. Will we still have an 8-person SCOTUS in four more years? Why not? There insane hatred appears to mean more to them than the functioning of the US.

    I have never voted for Republican for any office at any level since the Newt years and probably since the time of voodoo economics. Now that the Klan is onboard with the climate knownothings and the religious idiots who think the earth is 5 thousand years old, the Texas secessionists, the Alex Jones conspiracy lovers. the Ayn Rand superior humans, and the fools who believe that this billionaire who has been walking over people all his life will “have their backs”, I expect to never vote Republican again for any office no matter how small.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 07/20/2016 - 11:24 am.


    One reason I gravitated to Obama in 2008 vs Clinton was Clinton Derangement Syndrome – where, regardless of her actual actions, Republicans accused her of illegality & instinctively opposed anything she was for.

    Of course, it turned out that Obama got the same treatment. And now, it appears we’re in for another go with more irrational hate & opposition unmoored from reality.

  4. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 07/20/2016 - 11:51 am.

    Something is missing here….

    If you enjoy the give and take of forums like this, prepare for a disappointing election season: finding someone, anyone, to mount a thoughtful or competent or factual or ??? argument for Mr. Trump is impossible to find.

    Having Chris Christie as the spokesperson for the moral and ethical standards expected of our candidates tells everyone all they need to know about the depth of GOP dementia.

  5. Submitted by Brent Stahl on 07/20/2016 - 02:19 pm.

    Lucifer, alas

    Let us consider the Book of Job, a chapter in the Bible, a book that one assumes Ben Carson claims to follow with all of his heart and literal mind. God and “the Adversary” (aka Satan or Lucifer) make a wager regarding the saintliness of Job, a very successful and devout landowner. As a test, God allows Lucifer to play around with Job’s life to see if his devotion really depends on his earthly material success. Because God allows this to happen, I think we have to assume that the two deities–the Supreme one and the step-child sub-deity–had great respect for each other.

    Now, Satan had his faults, and the poet John Milton in “Paradise Lost” tells the long back story of how this most beautiful of angels couldn’t stand his subservient position and led a revolt that ended poorly. Said Satan: “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Even so, there can be some lessons if you are revolting against something other than God.

    Later on in the New Testament, Jesus, no less, was in a bad mood about something the apostle Peter said and snapped back, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” We can imagine that George III shouted similar oaths regarding the American revolutionaries.

    Satan still gets around in unexpected places: Irving Berlin saw a song in the episode above and around 1934 provided the following for a Fred Astaire – Ginger Rogers movie, sung, no less, by the prim Harriet Hilliard (later of Ozzie and Harriet).

    Get thee behind me, Satan
    I want to resist
    But the moon is low and I can’t say, ‘No’
    Get thee behind me…..

    But then, George and Ira Gershwin (in “Porgy and Bess”) caution to be careful with literal interpretations, as the devilish Sportin’ Life sings:

    It ain’t necessarily so…
    They tell all your children
    The devil
    He’s a villain
    It ain’t necessarily so…
    Oh, I take that gospel
    Whenever it’s possible
    But with a grain of salt…
    I’m preaching this sermon to show
    It ain”t necessarily so!

    Ben Carson is strange but his statements make some sense if we assume that our friend Lucifer is pulling his strings. I do wish that God would tell Lucifer to stop with the cosmic Trump joke already.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/20/2016 - 03:44 pm.

      Pleased to Meet You, Hope You Guessed My Name

      “Lucifer” is a rough translation of a Hebrew term for “morning star” or “bringer of light.” He isn’t necessarily the devil.

      Satan, in Jewish tradition, is a challenger. His presence is necessary so that the choice of good over evil is a meaningful one.

      So although Trump is some kind of cosmic joke (albeit one in questionable taste), he isn’t making it difficult to choose not to vote for him. Carson just makes it all the easier (With friends like that . . .).

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/20/2016 - 03:47 pm.

    It’s difficult

    …not to see the past 6 months of the Republican campaign, including debates and the eventual nomination of a child to run for president as a very long series of events that, purposely and deliberately, pander to the worst instincts of people who like to think of themselves as “conservatives,” whether that title is accurate or not. Chanting “lock her up” is not a political philosophy, much less one that allows for governing a diverse nation of more than 300 million people with one of the world’s largest economies. It is childishness, publicly displayed.

    The psychological term/phrase I learned years ago that seems to describe Mr. Trump’s behavior and speech is “the illusion of central position,” which, in practical terms, amounts to a belief that the universe revolves around the person holding that illusion, and that his/her needs and desires are essentially the only ones that count. It is characteristic of small children, hence, toddlers have tantrums when they’re frustrated, they’re sometimes vindictive when they’ve been denied something they want, and of course, the fact that they want something overrides any and all other considerations, so denying them something they want is viewed as upending the natural order of the universe. Try reasoning with a 3-year-old in mid-tantrum. Most adults eventually mature enough to be able to function reasonably well in a similarly adult society, where the interests and desires of numerous groups and untold numbers of individuals must be approximately balanced if that society is to survive.

    There are no societies in existence, nor have there ever been such societies, that practice the sort of Ayn Randian self-centeredness that Mr. Trump produces routinely, and apparently without any conscious thought. Nor have there ever been actual societies wherein that level of illusion has been practiced widely and uncritically throughout the community. The current “conservative” fetish for what I think can fairly be characterized as extreme individualism is doomed to failure individually, and attempts to put it into place as an important operating and/or motivating force in American society as a whole will render the American experiment a complete and total failure.

    When the sitting Governor of a state gets up in front of a large and emotional audience in person, and a national audience on television, and encourages the demonization of an opposing political candidate in the way that Mr. Christie did last night, what we’re viewing is “Lord of the Flies” as practiced by an entire political party. It’s not democracy in action, it’s demagoguery, and precisely the same sort of speech and crowd-inciting technique used by fascists in the 1930s to acquire power.

  7. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/20/2016 - 04:19 pm.

    The real themes of the convention

    Convention Day 1: “If Hillary Clinton is Elected, You Will Die”
    Convention Day 2: “Hillary Clinton Should Be in Jail”
    Convention Day 3: “Hillary Clinton Is Really Awful In Some Other Way’
    Convention Day 4: “This Guy Isn’t Hillary Clinton”

  8. Submitted by John Evans on 07/20/2016 - 07:16 pm.

    Your take on Paul Ryan

    …. “He suggested that Republicans have coherent detailed plans on taxes and health care that I’m skeptical they actually have.” Oh, come on, Eric!

    I have no doubt that those plans exist, but they are keeping them locked up until after the election in order to prevent a leak by some loose-lipped staffer. If they tried to run on those plans, they would lose the next 6 elections!

    Ryan himself would have little detailed knowledge of the plans, because he’s not a detailed thinker, (he just plays one on TV.) But he has a very good idea of which direction he wants to go, because the broad agenda hasn’t changed in 85 years.

    The goals are to eliminate all taxes on the rich, eliminate all corporate taxes and all restraints on capital; and to destroy Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Everything else is just a matter of tactics.

    You know this, Eric. I know you want to soft-peddle it so that you will appear even-handed and fair-mined. But you are pretending that the emperor’s choice of clothing is somehow a matter of opinion. I believe you do the public a disservice by not saying the obvious.

Leave a Reply