The Most Damning Speech of the GOP Convention

It wasn’t Melania Trump’s.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani shrieks at delegates during the evening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The 2016 Republican National Convention is a marvel of cognitive dissonance. It seems to have been constructed as though Republicans were nominating a normal presidential candidate. But they aren’t. We keep hearing that the nominee stands for this or has said that—but he doesn’t, and he hasn’t. He’s outside the bounds of presentable behavior. So the party, in its presentation, ignores his record.

Take Monday’s speech by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Like previous speakers, he complained that President Obama has failed to identify “our enemy.” Giuliani described this enemy as “Islamic extremist terrorism.” Then he paused to lecture reporters: “For the purpose of the media, I did not say all of Islam. I did not say most of Islam. I said Islamic extremist terrorism.”

Well, that’s nice. But it’s not what Trump has said. Trump has said, “Islam hates us.” He has proposed a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” If you don’t like that position, don’t lecture the press. Lecture your nominee.

“Donald Trump is a leader,” Giuliani went on. “He will reassert America’s position as the nation with the best values to lead the world.”

Really? Trump will show we have the best values to lead the world? Maybe a Republican speaker could have said that about George W. Bush, who at least claimed to fight for democracy. But Trump? Trump’s whole foreign policy is about renouncing values. He says our scruples weaken us in the fight against ISIS. He says we should torture prisoners for sheer retribution. He says we should target the families of terrorists. He says we should seize oil from countries we invade. Take the Ten Commandments, turn them upside down, and that’s pretty much what Trump stands for. You can argue that his foreign policy might scare some countries into bowing to us, as they do when threatened by Russia or China. But values? Please.

Giuliani accused Obama of dividing the country over police shootings. He asked: “What happened to ‘There’s no black America, no white America, there is just America’?” Speaking for the GOP, Giuliani pledged: “We reach out our arms with understanding and compassion to those who have lost loved ones because of police shootings.”

That’s sweet. But maybe, before issuing that pledge, Giuliani should have checked Trump’s Twitter account. He could start with Trump’s tweet that “the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics.” Then perhaps he could move on to Trump’s retweet of a fabricated claim that 81 percent of white homicide victims were killed by blacks—followed by Trump’s insistence that the number came “from sources that are very credible.” Then maybe he could peruse Trump’s tweets about the anger over policing in Ferguson, Missouri (“President Obama has absolutely no control [or respect] over the African American community”) and over the death of Freddie Gray (“Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!”). And for dessert, he could read Trump’s remark, just three weeks ago, that sportscaster Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder never should have apologized for racist comments about black athletes. There’s no black America, except in everything Trump says to white America.

Giuliani accused the press of misrepresenting Trump:

This is a man with a big heart who loves people. All people, from the top to the bottom, from the middle to the side. I’m telling you this because I’m sick and tired of the defamation of Donald Trump by the media and by the Clinton campaign. I’m sick and tired of it!

Defamation? Rudy, Rudy. Do you not have Internet? Have you ever watched a video of Trump talking? We’re not his defamers. We’re just his stenographers. We let him talk, and he shows everyone what’s in that big heart of his. Maybe you should queue up the time he ridiculed a disabled journalist. Or the time he said a judge was unfit to hear his case because the judge was “of Mexican heritage.” Or the time he pined for the days when protesters would be taken out of rallies “on a stretcher.” And that’s just a small sample of the venom that has oozed out of Trump’s mouth.

Here’s the problem, Republicans. Three days from now, this show you’re putting on will be over. All the promises made by people who aren’t Donald Trump will be gone. The only thing you’ll be left with is the guy you actually nominated for president. And what he has said—and continues to say—is so awful that you couldn’t bring yourselves, in four days of talking about him, to face who he really is.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.