In “Making America Safe for Whom?” Mr. Blow says Republicans are holding their convention just 10 minutes away from where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot in the stomach. Mr. Kristof ponders “What Republicans Really Think About Trump” and says bigot, madman, bully, fraud and serial philanderer are just a sampling of the terms used by influential conservatives. Ms. Collins, in “Pence Versus Trump Kids,” says Trump’s running mate got the spotlight for a while but got upstaged. Here’s Mr. Blow:
So far, the Republican National Convention in Cleveland has been a slapdash spectacle of the absurd, with processions of B-list politicians and Z-list celebrities jockeying for the title of biggest embarrassment.
Tuesday was supposed to follow the theme of “Make America Work Again” — something President Obama has already done to a large degree, for the record — but instead of presenting work programs, policies or proposals, the convention got the vice-presidential also-ran Chris Christie to conduct a Salem witch trial against Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Ben Carson, the retired brain surgeon with permanent brain freeze, tried to link Clinton to Lucifer.
Oh, to what depths has the Grand Old Party descended?
But the first day, the one themed “Make America Safe Again,” was perhaps the most egregious.
Again there was a prosecution of Clinton — and also Obama — more than a promotion of the already too self-promoting standard-bearer. It was an unending stream of fear, outrage and escalating agitation, as if the speakers were tossing chum to sharks. Rather than an expansive vision, they delivered restrictive insecurity. It was philosophically small.
One piece of this message involved the lifting up and honoring of America’s police, shouts of “Blue Lives Matter!” and an unhinged Rudy Giuliani screaming about an alternate universe of race-blind policing.
Recognizing that the police have hard jobs, and, when properly performed, those jobs are both honorable and necessary, is fine. But there is another part of the equation that was barely voiced in the hall, which is the lack of safety that black and brown Americans feel, and indeed experience, when facing the police.
Giuliani’s only hint at this (and the only one I heard from any of the speakers) was this:
“We also reach out. We reach out our arms with understanding and compassion to those who have lost loved ones because of police shootings — some justified, some unjustified.”
It was in no way lost on me that the Republicans are holding their convention in an arena just 10 minutes away from Cudell Recreation Center, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice, playing with a pellet gun in an adjacent park, was shot in the stomach (within two seconds of officers’ arriving on the scene). He later died of his injuries.
Tamir’s ashes now rest in a blue and white marble urn, surrounded by his toys, in a curio cabinet in the dining room of his mother, Samaria. She cannot rest. She cannot be set right. The grand jury for the case declined to indict the officer who killed Tamir.
Independent investigations into the case determined that the officer who shot Tamir had behaved “reasonably.”
But, as Olevia Boykin, Christopher Desir and Jed Rubenfeld pointed out in The New York Times in January:
“Racial bias can affect what seems reasonable. Individuals of all races in America perceive black people as more aggressive and dangerous than white people. Studies show that black people are seen as being physically stronger and less prone to feeling pain than people of other races, and black children are often perceived to be older than they are. When faced with an armed black target, shooters are both more likely to shoot and quicker to shoot than they are when faced with an armed white target. These biases can affect the way we think, judge and act. As a result, force that may seem unreasonable if used against a white person may seem perfectly “reasonable” when used against a black person.”
In April the city of Cleveland settled a wrongful-death suit brought by Tamir’s family for $6 million. And while that money may eventually be able to buy physical comforts, it can’t provide spiritual consolation.
I called Samaria Rice to ask if anyone from the R.N.C. had reached out their arms to her with “understanding and compassion.” Not a one. Especially not Giuliani, who one day after Tamir was shot, told Prof. Michael Eric Dyson (who is black) on “Meet the Press” that white officers wouldn’t be in black neighborhoods “if you weren’t killing each other.” The inclusivity of the “you” racializes that statement. Whom had Dyson killed, or Tamir? No one. The common denominator for murderous proclivities in the former mayor’s mind was coded in melanin.
This erasure of black pain to create space for blue platitudes does not stand. It’s not either/or, but both/and. Too many groups in America now — the police and citizens alike — feel threatened. Tamir and all the other people who have lost their lives in highly questionable police shootings will not simply be shunted aside. There can be no complete healing until there has been some sense of restorative justice.
On Wednesday, I met Samaria for lunch to remember Tamir and discuss how she and her family were doing since the last time I interviewed her for a column on the anniversary of Tamir’s shooting.
She seemed well, but weathered. Tamir’s siblings are in counseling. His sister, who Samaria told me stopped eating after her brother died and lost significant weight, is eating well again.
Samaria herself sounds like a woman on a mission, advocating for her son in particular, but also for “human rights” in general, as she put it, because she fears the normalization of the killings of black people by the police.
Voices like Samaria’s cannot — must not! — be absent from any discussion about keeping America safe. Tamir’s blood cries out for inclusion. His mother’s heart aches for it.
She can never get back what was taken. She can’t rewind the world.
She looked up at me solemnly over lunch and said, “I would like to be normal, and I’m not normal … anymore.” She paused, then continued, “You may be normal, but I’m not.”
Pain and loss are her new normal.
Next up we have Mr. Kristof:
The arena here at the Republican National Convention echoes with applause for Donald Trump, but the cacophony and extravagant stage effects can’t conceal the chaos in the G.O.P. and in the Trump campaign.
Republican senators suddenly are busy fishing, mowing the lawn or hiking the Grand Canyon; conservative celebrities mostly sent regrets. This vacuum reflects the horror that many leading conservatives feel for their new nominee.
Pundits like me are gnashing our teeth as Trump receives the presidential nomination of the party of Lincoln, but, frankly speaking, we don’t have much credibility in Cleveland since many of us aren’t all that likely to support a Republican nominee in any case.
So instead of again inflicting on you my views of the danger of Trump, let me share what some influential conservatives said about him during the course of the campaign. (Some have since tempered their public sentiments.)
“He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.” — Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina
“I don’t think this guy has any more core principles than a Kardashian marriage.” — Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska
“We saw and looked at true hate in the eyes last year in Charleston. I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the K.K.K. That is not a part of our party.” — Nikki Haley, Republican governor of South Carolina
“A moral degenerate.” — Peter Wehner, evangelical Christian commentator who served in last three Republican administrations
“Donald Trump is a madman who must be stopped,” — Bobby Jindal, former Republican governor of Louisiana
“I won’t vote for Donald Trump because of who he isn’t. He isn’t a Republican. He isn’t a conservative. He isn’t a truth teller. … I also won’t vote for Donald Trump because of who he is. A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully.” — Norm Coleman, former Republican senator from Minnesota
“To support Trump is to support a bigot. It’s really that simple.” —Stuart Stevens, chief strategist to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign
“Donald Trump is unfit to be president. He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey.” — Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise C.E.O. and former national finance co-chairwoman for Chris Christie’s presidential campaign
“I thought he was an embarrassment to my party; I think he’s an embarrassment to my country. … I can’t vote for him.” — Tom Ridge, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush
“I would not vote for Trump, clearly. If there is any, any, any other choice, a living, breathing person with a pulse, I would be there.” — Mel Martinez, former Republican senator from Florida and former chairman of the Republican National Committee
“The G.O.P., in putting Trump at the top of the ticket, is endorsing a brand of populism rooted in ignorance, prejudice, fear and isolationism. This troubles me deeply as a Republican, but it troubles me even more as an American. … Never Trump.” — Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary under George W. Bush
“Hillary is preferable to Trump, just like malaria is preferable to Ebola. … If it’s Trump-Hillary with no serious third-party option in the fall, as hard as it is for me to believe I am actually writing these words, there is just no question: I’d take a Tums and cast my ballot for Hillary.” — Jamie Weinstein, senior writer, the Daily Caller, a conservative website
“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.” — Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican nominee for president
“When you’ve got a guy favorably quoting Mussolini, I don’t care what party you’re in, I’m not voting for that guy.” — Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund
“Donald Trump is a scam. Evangelical voters should back away.” — The Christian Post, a popular U.S. evangelical website
“Listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it. … The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery. How proud he is. Describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam.” — Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas
“A man utterly unfit for the position by temperament, values and policy preferences … whose personal record of chicanery and wild rhetoric of bigotry, misogyny and misplaced belligerence are without parallel in the modern history of either major party.” — Eliot A. Cohen, a senior State Department official under George W. Bush
“Leaders don’t need to do research to reject Klan support. #NeverTrump” — Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee
“God bless this man” — Daily Stormer, white supremacist website
And you can safely bet your last dime that every single one of those hypocrites will vote for Trump. Now here’s Ms. Collins:
Donald Trump arrived here Wednesday with a few words to the fans assembled at the helicopter pad. Really, just a few. Win Ohio … make America great … Mike Pence … unbelievable vice president.
“Welcome to Cleveland,” said Pence. It was a little peculiar that the governor of Indiana was doing the greeting, but there was, you know, that problem with John Kasich being on strike from the convention. It was Pence’s big night, although Trump made it pretty clear he was more excited about his son Eric’s turn on stage. (“Eric’s going to be great … amazing job. Kids congratulations. Fantastic job.”)
Which Trump child has been your favorite so far? I think you have to give a little credit to Tiffany, who labors under the burden of having been named for a jewelry store and got stuck with the job of telling the long-awaited touching personal anecdotes about her father. Eric, however, seemed to be the schedulers’ favorite, given the fact that speaking roles also went to an official from the winery he runs and to the vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation.
The kids have been a relatively heartwarming feature, considering that virtually everybody else, including the conventioneers, has spent a large chunk of time demanding that Hillary Clinton be sent directly to the pokey. (“Lock her up!”)
This is a whole new world when it comes to nominating a president. The candidate pops up all over the place, like Pokémon. When he’s not around, the delegates listen to his relatives, or speakers calling for the imprisonment of his opponent.
Look back nostalgically on the days when you’d hear a description like that and think, maybe, Gambia.
For all the hate-Hillary hysteria, the convention had been a bit of a snooze — until we got to Ted Cruz. He began with a shout-out to LeBron James, then congratulated Trump “on winning the nomination last night.” The emotional high point of the evening came when the enraged delegates realized he was never going to mention the nominee again. You have to hand it to Ted Cruz. His ability to drive people crazy is unparalleled.
By the end of the evening, hating Cruz was almost as popular as hating Hillary. But the latter, of course, has more staying power.
A New Hampshire delegate — who is also a well-known Trump adviser on veterans’ affairs — upped the ante, telling a radio interviewer that Clinton should be “shot for treason.” State Representative Al Baldasaro is what is known as a colorful politician. There is one in every legislature, where “colorful” is a synonym for “stark raving nuts but still repeatedly elected.”
The leader of New Hampshire’s Republican Party called on Baldasaro to take it back, but being a Trumpite means never having to say you’re sorry.
Refusal to apologize is definitely one of the overarching themes of the Cleveland experience. We’d still be debating the Melania’s Cribbed Quotes crisis if a hitherto unknown Trump employee hadn’t finally taken responsibility. (On the plus side, a day and a half of stonewalling gave us the opportunity to hear the Republican spokesman dismiss the whole affair with a quote from Twilight Sparkle in “My Little Pony.”)
But about Mike Pence. His speech is destined to be totally forgotten in the Cruzmania. But he did a grand job of returning the auditorium to the early-evening theme of sleepiness. Every single one of the Trump children turns out to be a more exciting speaker than the prospective vice-president. Tiffany’s story about how Donald wrote notes on her report cards suddenly took on new and compelling dimensions.
Even Pence, however, drew a “Lock her up!” chant from the floor. It’s what they’ve got.
In case you missed it, Pence promised that his new partner would solve all of our problems, from ISIS to the national debt. There was no explanation of how Trump — whose current tax-cutting plan would send the debt soaring like a grand new skyscraper — was going to manage that. This is definitely not a convention that sweats the details.
So far the most interesting look at the Pence-Trump relationship came on “60 Minutes,” when Lesley Stahl asked Pence if he thought that as vice president he’d ever be able to go to his boss and say that he’d “crossed the line” and needed to apologize. Pence stammered desperately until Trump broke in and said: “Absolutely. I might not apologize. … I might not do that. But I would absolutely want him to come in.”
Some people believe the Republican vice-presidential selection is more important than usual because Trump is capable of getting bored with the actual duties of presidency and tossing everything short of declaring nuclear war over to his veep. It’s possible. But of course if that happened, he could just as easily put Donald Jr. in charge.
The one thing we know for sure is that if Trump did something terrible, Pence would have no chance whatsoever to get him to say he’s sorry. But the vice-presidential nominee has total rights to go into his office and be ignored.