CLEVELAND, July 21, 2016 — The first three nights of the 2016 Republican Convention were window dressing. They always are for both parties. The success or failure of a political convention comes down to the main event.
Donald J. Trump had to give the speech of a lifetime, and he did.
After his daughter Ivanka gave him a warm introduction, Trump had to show he could look, act and be presidential. The only flaw in his speech was its length. He spoke for 75 minutes, and could easily have chopped 30 minutes from what he had to say. Nevertheless, he was everything he had to be.
Trump was focused, disciplined, and determined to stay on message. He did not wander off into streams of consciousness that have plagued some of his less effective speeches. In this speech, he did the three things he had to do. He showed his compassionate, human side. He spoke lovingly about his family, showed empathy for minorities suffering in inner cities, and vowed emphatically to protect gay Americans.
His most important emphasis was his repeated reminder that he would bring law and order back to America. Under a Trump administration, the days of violence without consequences against police officers would cease.
He attacked Hillary Clinton for her failed policies without getting in the gutter. He did not call her “Crooked Hillary” or chant “lock her up,” but he mercilessly skewered her record as Secretary of State. He showed that she was part of the rigged system, from her emails to her foundation.
He focused on policy beyond illegal immigration and trade. He vowed to cut taxes and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He contrasted his support for the Second Amendment with Clinton’s willingness to all but gut it.
He vowed to stand up for Israel and combat radical Islam, noting that President Barack Obama and Clinton have not.
Trump would stand up for crime victims of illegal immigration, while Obama and Clinton would support the illegal immigrants. Trump would protect police officers while Obama and Clinton created the climate that have led to increased police killings and societal breakdown.
Trump spoke to the delegates, but he also spoke to the viewers at home. He showed that he could be tough without being bombastic or mean. He was fiery while still being restrained and disciplined.
Trump was, in a word, presidential. He delivered a successful convention, and now has four months to show he has the gravitas and seriousness of purpose to become the 45th President of the United States.