A few things have stood out for me in first two nights of the Republican National Convention.
1. The production value. I don’t know if Republicans altered their plans after watching the Democrats last week, or if that is even logistically possible, but they have put on a far slicker — and quite Trumpian! — show. Last week often looked like a glorified Zoom call.
2. This might be the most strongly pro-life convention in history. Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director, gave, as Rich Lowry pointed out, “the strongest, most compelling pro-life speech ever given at a major party convention.” As far I know, there’s never been a speech given in primetime detailing, with harrowing specificity, the process of a destroying a life at an abortion clinic. The usual suspects accused Johnson of being a zealot, but I’ve never believed abortion is a losing issue. There’s a reason Democrats, who’ve staked out a maximalist position, have to hide behind euphemisms like “reproductive justice.”
3. Nor can I remember a Republican convention that worked so hard to appeal to African Americans. The Jon Ponder pardon was touching and inspirational. I thought Tim Scott’s speech was the most compelling of the first night. And tonight, Daniel Cameron, Kentucky attorney general, was perhaps the most effective by any politician. “You can’t tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin,” Cameron said, responding to Joe Biden’s, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black” comment a few months back. “My mind is my own.” Conventions generally have a marginal impact on the election, but they do create political stars. And I imagine Scott and Cameron probably picked up a bunch of new fans this week.