Donald Trump and self-doubt: a proper noun and a human reality that have no business in the same sentence.
To be The Donald is to possess The Confidence. It’s to revel in your own appeal. That hair, that birtherism — who could resist? Certainly not the Republican Party, at least not in The Donald’s objective estimation. So when the first round of speakers for the party’s late August convention leaked out Sunday and he wasn’t on it, he fretted not a whit. In due course he would surely get his summons to participate.
“I know they want me to,” he said on Monday on “Fox and Friends.” “I’ll see what happens.”
So will we. The giddy excitement of Convention Season is here.
The Republicans go first, in Tampa, while the Democrats follow a week later, and just as humidly, in Charlotte. In the matter of convention sites, neither party gave much thought to global warming.
But the lineups of speakers: that’s an issue of the utmost deliberation and sometimes consternation and enormous, epic consequence. All party stalwarts agree on that, until they think about it a bit longer and realize that, well, they’re really not so sure.
On Monday I talked to two prominent Republican strategists in a row who said that Mitt Romney’s choice of keynote speaker, not yet determined, was essential. Then they tried to recall who that essential choice from the 2008 Republican convention was, and came up blank.
I myself had to Google it: Rudy Giuliani. There are some things you really do force yourself to forget.
One of the strategists asserted that Romney’s greatest mistake would be to emulate the Democrats in 2004, when the keynoter, a certain Barack Obama, shone brighter than the nominee, John Kerry, perhaps making him look duller in contrast. The strategist did not admit per se that Romney had a luminescence problem. There are some things you really needn’t say.
He recommended that Romney take a page from the Republican grand master of stagecraft, Ronald Reagan, and select a keynote speaker of restrained wattage.
“Do you know who did the 1980 keynote for Reagan?” he asked.
I said I was mortified that I didn’t. I wasn’t being entirely truthful about the mortification part.
“Guy Vander Jagt,” he said.
“Exactly,” he said. “Reagan understood what it meant to be the star, and he had seen All About Eve.”
Has Romney? And does Eve ride in an Escalade with Florida or New Jersey plates?
Those are the home states of the other strategist’s suggested keynoters, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. This strategist said that a real dynamo was just what the convention and Romney needed, and that Rubio and Christie qualified. Bear in mind that everything is relative, and that the dynamo yardstick includes Mitch McConnell and Roy Blunt.
The conventions indeed speak volumes about each party’s anxieties and stratagems, two words that fittingly bring us to Bill Clinton.
He was among the first speakers confirmed for a prime-time slot during the Democratic convention, proving that all is forgiven when everything’s on the line. And he’s meant, clearly, to remind Americans of the sustained prosperity during his administration, a Democratic one.