Stump Speech: A Convention Comparison

BY MAX BURBANK | By the time you read this, there will be less than 100 days until the general election. Like all good crap storms (and this election is the Crapmageddon of crap storms), awful things are happening a whole big lot, and also quickly.

It behooves us (BEHOOVES us, I say!) as thoughtful citizens to pause a moment and reflect.

I spent the last two weeks “live tweeting” the conventions for Chelsea Now, watching at least four hours a night — a combined 32 hours more than I usually watch. More than most Americans who did not actually attend a convention, and more than some who did. I got paid for my time, but I’m also getting paid for this. So, having established this exercise benefits us all, let’s review.


“I’m not the least bit like Hitler. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me.” AP photo by Bill Clark.
“I’m not the least bit like Hitler. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me.” AP photo by Bill Clark.

Thunderdome! A whole party enters, one man leaves. I don’t know if you’ve ever worshipped Cthulhu or been a member of one of those quasi-Egyptian death cults Mr. Spielberg seemed so fond of in early ’80s, but I imagine their get-togethers were something like this year’s RNC. Except, you know, more organized and competent. #NeverTrump became #NeverUs with a whimper, beaten to death by the Magic Gavel of Reince Priebus. If only they’d had the foresight to have an alternative candidate, or a path toward nominating one if they existed, or, say, any kind of plan at all.

The stars came out! Remember, Trump is a celebrity who hobnobs with all sorts of Hollywood and sports luminaries! He promised a “show biz” convention, and boy, did he deliver! Scott “Chachi” Baio! Charles in Charge of being asked to speak two days before the convention started! Underwear model and former actor on something or other, Antonio Sabato Jr.! Conventioneers unclear on who he was might have thought him Latino, which could have been a plus, but he left his shirt on, so it was a wash. Golf Lady! Guy who owns that thing where people beat each other bloody in a cage! Seriously? What the hell, Donald? I thought you were supposed to be good at TV! Chachi, Donald? You know how you like to call people “losers?” Chachi. That’s a loser choice.

There were plenty of Republican Party movers and shakers. Sure, none of the previous Republican Presidents. Or any of the previous Republican candidates for President, unless you count Bob Dole. It’s not clear he knew who the nominee was. Some of your rivals showed. Rick Perry had a speech, but you put him on in the afternoon when no one was watching. Still been smarting from that time Perry called you “Cancer?” Sarah Palin almost came, but Alaska is just too far away, as any of the delegates from Alaska who all managed to somehow make it will tell you. Rudy Giuliani did… something. I’m not sure what. An attack? He stood on a live wire? Hard to say. Whatever it was, it looked like it hurt.

At least Trump has a big family, and that filled some slots! Potential First Lady and time-traveling Bond Girl from the Roger Moore era, Melania Trump, gave a lovely speech that was almost as good as the first time it was delivered. The Trump boys took time out from slaughtering large animals and using all the hair gel there is to speak glowingly of their Dad, a man who… uh… has various human-like qualities often displayed by living people to their non-generic offspring. We were even treated to a description of The Donald hauling drywall, or sheetrock, or some other construction material everyone knows he has never lifted in his entire life, because he has people he’ll later refuse to pay to do that.

Tiffany “See? I’m not invisible!” Trump further humanized her Pop with a charming anecdote about this one time? When a close friend of hers died? Her Dad called her! On the phone! Himself! Like a hug, but no touching! And then Ivanka, the “Marilyn” of Trump’s Munster clan… Okay, I’m gonna stop for a sec. That’s like the third time this year I’ve made that joke. I don’t think people truly appreciate it. See, on “The Munsters,” Marilyn looked like a totally normal person and the rest of the family felt bad for her because she wasn’t a freak. See, Ivanka? If you just met her? Out of context? Screw it, that joke is comedy gold. Anyway, Ivanka gave this great speech about women’s rights and equal pay and then she ruined it by saying her Dad was for that stuff. Ivanka. Your Dad wants to date you. He thinks women are Perfect Tens or pigs. I thought she was endorsing Hillary. Imagine my disappointment.

Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for — admittedly somewhat diluted, since he’d managed to make an appearance every single night: The Annoying Orange himself. I had to listen on earphones to spare my family, which made it like he was yelling directly in my ear for 70 minutes. I felt as if someone used a belt sander on my brain. I have no takeaway beyond the certain knowledge that brown-skinned people are going to murder me and everyone I love, and take their sweet time doing it. And at the close, a sentence that is never true, when spoken by anyone about anything: “I alone can fix this.” Superman doesn’t say crap like that.

Oh, and lest we forget, Laura Ingraham heiled The Donald’s giant Jumbotroned mug. That happened.


“Thank you. Thank you all. I’d have a flag on stage, but I don't love America.” Photo via facebook.com/hillaryclinton.
“Thank you. Thank you all. I’d have a flag on stage, but I don’t love America.” Photo via facebook.com/hillaryclinton.

I want to talk an equal amount of smack about the DNC. I truly do. I can’t. I want to say the conventions were comparable. They weren’t.

Yes, Bernie got the shaft. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a disaster long before Donnie’s comrade man-crush outed her. The spectacle of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, gaveling in the convention was an embarrassing reminder of entrenched machine politics. The opening prayer was booed! A prayer, booed! On the other hand, the DNC managed to be about things besides White Identity, Bigotry, Terror (as opposed to Terrorism), and sweaty-faced, spittle-flying hatred. Was the whole show forcefully, strategically overly optimistic? Sure. Did watching Democrats chant “USA, USA” and co-opt Reagan’s “Morning in America” shtick make me a little queasy? Yeah, ’cause it wasn’t morning then — and for a lot of folks, it isn’t now. But it’s not the friggin’ “Purge” either, and listening to that corn silk toupeed jack-o’-lantern holler that we were living the apocalypse, but that the day, the instant after he was elected everything would be fine, was puke-inducing. Sorry. I’m a satirist, not an analyst.

And not for nothing, the DNC held together as a TV show. Star Power? Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Sarah Silverman, Elizabeth Banks, Meryl-frikkin-STREEP! Streep alone is equal to 752 Chachis! That’s just math. Bernie endorsed Hillary! Not quite the same as Creepy Ted saying, “Vote your conscience.” Bill made a whole speech that bordered on sweet with no finger wagging or lecturing. Joe Biden said “malarkey,” and I’d vote for whoever he told me to based on that alone! And the Obamas. Even the people who didn’t like them are going to miss them. They don’t know it yet, but they will.

It’s been less than a week, and what do we have so far? Trump slamming the Khans, implying Hillary wrote their speech, claiming building gaudy-ass monogrammed towers constitutes a SACRIFICE on the level of losing a child, throwing shade at firemen who just pulled his fat, orange ass out of a stuck elevator, throwing a BABY out of his rally, and saying that if Ivanka were to be sexually harassed, she should just get another job! We are well outside of normal and way beyond party politics.

The conventions showed there are only two choices on the ballot: Flushing the American experiment down the crapper or not. Choose.