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By Stump Connolly

“So far, So good,” Sarah Palin tweeted Tuesday morning from Alaska. “From 3,000 miles up North, it’s good to hear the GOP Convention is going well.”

It was a day for hunting down plagiarists, although the Trump camp was in no hurry to find them.

Sean Spicer, the Republican party spokesman, told MSNBC that Melania’s cribbing from Michelle Obama was “only 70 words in three passages” — no worse than lifting a few inspirational phrases from My Little Pony — although she was talking about Trump family values.

“After all this is over, I think people are going to say this was a great convention,” he added. “The stage looked phenomenal. It was the best set of speeches I have ever heard.”

Other Republicans called for someone to be fired. (Know anyone who can do that?) Dan Senor, a Republican strategist close to Mike Pence, said it was mind-boggling that Melania’s speech was not vetted. “What this shows is that the Trump campaign is little more than an advance staff and a twitter feed,” he said.

Eventually, The New York Times traced a first draft of Melania’s speech back to two Bush speechwriters, Matthew Scully and John Connell. “But Ms. Trump decided to revise it, and at one point she turned to a trusted hand: Meredith McIver, a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books, including Think Like a Billionaire,” The Times reported.

No Negs Here

But enough with the negativity. No one has been shot yet. Eleven California delegation staffers did contract a Norovirus and were sent into quarantine in a motel outside Cleveland. The good news is the virus only lasts three days, but it does cause vomiting and diarrhea. So if you see any Republicans vomiting or shitting on each other, please report them to the authorities.

At 7:09 PM, convention chairman Paul Ryan declared that Donald J. Trump was the official presidential nominee of the Republican Party. The roll call vote was:

Donald Trump, 1,725
Ted Cruz, 475
John Kasich, 120
Marco Rubio, 114
Ben Carson, 7
Jeb Bush, 3
Rand Paul, 2

[1,237 delegates needed to win.]

The high point came when Fox News broke into the count to report Roger Ailes, its chairman and CEO, was being booted out of his job in a sex scandal.

Trump’s victory was sealed when his son Donald Jr. led the New York delegation in casting 87 votes for his father. The reaction was a little less than euphoric.

“Who says the crowd is going wild?” Politico’s Roger Simon tweeted. “The only thing going wild are the graphics on the big screen.”

On to the speechifying. The theme of the night was “Make America Work Again” –– a goal that apparently can only be accomplished by sending Hillary Clinton to jail.

Among those testifying on Trump’s behalf were:

* Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), who staged his mixed martial arts bouts in Trump casinos when no one else would have them;

* Asa Hutchinson, the first term governor of Arkansas who bragged that unemployment in his state was the lowest it has been in history, but gave no credit to President Obama for the accomplishment;

*Andy Wist, head of Standard Waterproofing, a Bronx roofing company who believes “working men and women still matter in this country;”

* and Natalie Gulbis, a professional golfer on the LPGA tour who appeared in a recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue wearing only body paint. Sorry, none of the cable channels covered her remarks so I don’t know what she added to the conversation.

Before the networks joined the party at 9 PM, a couple politicians took a crack at it. House Speaker Paul Ryan got a lukewarm response when he mentioned he had been the party’s vice-presidential candidate only four years earlier under Mitt Romney; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was roundly booed when he stepped to the podium.

McConnell mentioned Trump only six times (compared to 26 references to Hillary Clinton) in explaining why it was important for Republicans not to lose the Senate. And Ryan, still trying to reconcile Republican values with Trump’s, threw in the towel and gave one of those “Win one for the Gipper” speeches calling on all Republicans to rally to the cause – not losing control of the House. Job security is a great motivator in politics.

If there was any drama to be had in the evening, it came from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who delivered on his promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her crimes against America.

Too Much Fun

“Let’s do something fun,” Christie said. “As a former prosecutor, I welcome this opportunity to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her performance and her character.”

He then proceeded to “present the case on facts” – somehow forgetting a little detail they teach in law school where the defendant gets to be present in court. He ticked off Clinton’s alleged misdeeds in Libya, Nigeria, China, Syria, Iran, Russia, and, of course, in her personal emails, egging the crowd on after each count of the indictment to shout “Guilty!”

Soon enough, “Guilty!” transformed into “Lock her up!” — which is emerging as the convention’s main theme.

“What happened to jobs and the economy night?” Gloria Borger asked the CNN panel afterward.

“I felt like I was at the Salem Witch Trials,” chimed in Michael Smerconish.

Over on CBS, Bob Schieffer, who was attending his 24th presidential convention, said this was the oddest one he’s ever seen. “It’s a doom and gloom convention,” he said.

Just An Average Joe

Finally, the primetime hour began with a speech by Donald Trump Jr. * The high point of the evening. He was not only lucid (by comparison) but persuasive in extolling the virtues of his dad:

“You want to know what kind of president he’ll be? Let me tell you how he ran his businesses, and I know because I was there with him by his side on job sites, in conference rooms from the time I could walk.

“He didn’t hide out behind some desk in an executive suite, he spent his career with regular Americans. He hung out with the guys on construction sites pouring concrete and hanging sheetrock. He listened to them and he valued their opinions as much and often more than the guys from Harvard and Wharton locked away in offices away from the real work.

“He’s recognized the talent and the drive that all Americans have. He’s promoted people based on their character, their street smarts and their work ethic, not simply paper or credentials. To this day, many of the top executives in our company are individuals that started out in positions that were blue collar, but he saw something in them and he pushed them to succeed.

“His true gift as a leader is that he sees the potential in people that they don’t even see in themselves…the potential that other executives would overlook because their resumes don’t include the names of fancy colleges and degrees.”

He said that and a lot more (read the transcript) laying out an argument why his billionaire father is the best hope for working class America. It is THE argument people in Ohio, Pennsylvania and across the rust belt will have to buy if Trump is to have any chance of actually winning the presidency.

But Junior’s speech, unfortunately, took up only 12 minutes — and there were 48 more minutes of primetime left to go.

Clint Eastwood Without The Chair

Ben Carson, the former primary rival who sold out his endorsement for a spot on the convention program came next; and he proved himself to be his usual useless self.

Searching for his own way to trash Hillary, he lit upon the fact Clinton wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley about Chicago-based community organizer Saul Alinsky.

Alinsky’s book “Rules for Radicals” offers an “over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical” – Lucifer – “who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom.”

In Carson’s mind, this makes Hillary the disciple of a devil worshipper, and thus, worthy of being locked up.

Liberals scoffed. “Ben Carson is Clint Eastwood without the chair,” tweeted Ben LaBolt. But the crowd ate it up. At least those still left in the hall did.

With 30 minutes still to go, more than half the chairs on the convention floor were empty. Ana Navarro, the Republican CNN commentator, found it “almost embarrassing” to see the hall when she arrived late.

“I felt like I was walking in on the fourth quarter of a basketball game that is a 60-point blowout.”

David Axelrod, on the same CNN panel, said he was dumbfounded at how the Republicans had wasted precious prime TV airtime.

“When you have a Donald Trump Jr., why do you follow him with Carson and Kimberlin Brown?” (Brown is a former soap opera star in The Young and The Restless who now is now an avocado grower and interior decorator in California.)

Anderson Cooper took up the challenge. “We asked the campaign about that,” he said, “and they say this is the way Mr. Trump wants it. It’s his convention and this is what he wants.”

Can’t wait to see what Sarah Palin thinks of that.


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