Protesters are going to try to get as close to the White House as possible for Donald Trump’s speech. We can presumably expect them to do their best to make a ruckus while he talks.
Hopefully this doesn’t get ugly.
This is the scene outside the White House tonight as the final night of the RNC starts – in front of the Chamber of Commerce. Police creating a perimeter blocking protestors from moving up Connecticut Ave pic.twitter.com/w3ckUAF0q7
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) August 28, 2020
The final day has started in a fashion I did not expect – with a very energetic speech from a man who is usually very boring, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
To set the table for you here, this is roughly equivalent to the Liberal Party of old deciding to start an election event with a barn burner from Warren Truss.
“We carve our own destiny. As Americans, we look forward, not backward,” Mr McCarthy declared, as a movie trailer-style quick cut of astronauts, jet fighters and a majestic looking eagle played on screen.
“Our ancestors braved the unknown! They built this nation, brick by brick! They lifted up millions from poverty, hunger and disease! They vanquished fascism and communism!
“A great nation, with great people. And no one has done more to protect and advance it than President Trump.”
Eagles! Hell yeah. Vote Trump.
Something that’s been curiously lacking from this convention is any real mention of the argument that Joe Biden lacks the basic mental faculties to do the job.
Donald Trump hammered that argument for months in the lead-up to the event. You’ll recall his brief obsession with the cognitive test he passed and his attempt to get Mr Biden to take the same one.
Anyway, with that context, I present this clip from Mr Biden’s interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper.
The Democratic nominee is quite obviously reading notes here, and he’s not doing a particularly convincing job of it either.
It’s getting dark in Washington D.C. and the guests are gathering on the White House’s South Lawn for Donald Trump’s speech.
These photos are from AFP’s Brendan Smialowski.
There’s a similar lack of social distancing happening a short distance away in the recently renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, where anti-Trump protesters are rallying.
Another AFP photographer, Olivier Douliery, captured these images.
In yesterday’s wrap, I talked about Vice President Mike Pence’s very clear “law and order” message, and how it seemed as though he and Donald Trump had finally settled on a core argument for the campaign.
I won’t bore you with the full breakdown of Mr Pence’s speech here. The short version is that he spoke a heck of a lot about supporting law enforcement and imposing “law and order” on the streets, but curiously, didn’t mention a single example of police brutality against African-Americans.
He spoke about the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but not the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is now paralysed after being shot seven times by police despite being unarmed.
Mr Trump and Mr Pence have clearly picked a side here. They are going all-in on defending the police.
RELATED: Read our wrap of day three
Exhibit B: This tweet from Mr Trump. Expect more of this during his speech today.
Democrats and Biden didn’t even mention the Anarchists, Agitators, Looters and so called “Peaceful Protesters” at their Convention. They will allow rampant crime, just as they do in Portland. If they ask us, as they must do, we will end crime in their Democrat run cities, FAST!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2020
Here are some more photos of the set-up for Donald Trump’s speech on the White House’s South Lawn, this time courtesy of veteran reporter Jon Karl.
It’s a sight I never before imagined: the South Lawn of the White House transformed into the stage of a political convention. pic.twitter.com/Yurupt3Zse
— jonkarl (@jonkarl) August 27, 2020
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports the ‘overwhelming majority’ of people attending the speech will not be tested for the coronavirus.
White House officials told the paper it would be “impossible” to test the more than 1000 guests who are expected to show up.
So to summarise, what we’re talking about here is a crowd of 1000+ people, sitting in close proximity to each other, most of them likely without face masks, in the middle of a pandemic.
What could possibly go wrong?
President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has weighed in with his opinion on the NBA teams who refused to take the court for their playoff games to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
The extraordinary boycott came in response to the shooting of an unarmed African-American man, Jacob Blake, in Wisconsin.
Speaking to CNBC today, Mr Kushner was a teensy bit snarky.
“Look, I think that the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially,” he said.
“So they have that luxury. Which is great.”
Let’s be clear about his tone here. Mr Kushner was not saying “which is great” in the same way that someone might say: “You passed your exams. Which is great.”
It was more like someone saying: “You spent the entire day in your bedroom with the blinds shut, playing video games and eating Cheetos off your chest. Which is great.”
He went on to throw some shade at the league for focusing on “slogans and signals” instead of “actual action”.
“Look, I think with the NBA, there’s a lot of activism, and I think that they’ve put a lot of slogans out. But I think what we need to do is turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that’s going to solve the problem,” Mr Kushner said.
A little later in the day, he gave similar comments to Politico, saying it was “nice” to see players speaking out but he would “like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive”.
He said he was going to reach out to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who actually has a long history of doing “concrete” things, at some point today.
“We’re happy to talk with him and say, ‘Look, let’s both agree on what we want to accomplish, and let’s come up with a common pathway to get there,'” said Mr Kushner.
His remarks drew criticism from some quarters.
Silver Spoon Jared Kushner calling NBA players “lucky for being able to take a night off from work” is too rich.
These are grown men who have worked insanely hard to earn their jobs. Without rich parents.
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) August 27, 2020
Boy, if I were Jared Kushner, I wouldn’t go one-on-one w/@KingJames, especially since Jared had his facts wrong about the public school LeBron launched in his hometown of Akron! https://t.co/33k4Wf6J67
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 27, 2020
Chris Paul worked his whole life and won a scholarship to Wake Forest University. Jared Kushner’s father bought the spalpeen’s way into Harvard. https://t.co/kxEaWtIpFZ
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) August 27, 2020
Most notably, The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill was absolutely fuming during an appearance on MSNBC.
“I think it’s really interesting that somebody whose father-in-law – father-in-law that is quite wealthy, at least according to him – ran on the campaign that America wasn’t great enough, and that it’s fine if the billionaire or reported billionaire complains about the condition of this country, but not black athletes,” Hill said.
“I thought what he said was tone deaf and just frankly embarrassing.
“I shouldn’t be surprised, considering the source.”
She praised the NBA players’ attempt to “steer conversations away from basketball to talk about police violence”.
“To see a black man shot in his back seven times, nearly executed in front of his own children – and I can’t blame them for feeling, not just frustrated, but also feeling like they have to do something more drastic.”
I should note that Mr Trump also offered an opinion on the NBA’s situation today, albeit briefly. He went with his usual insult about bad ratings.
“I don’t know much about the NBA protest. I know their ratings have been very bad because I think people are a little tired of the NBA,” Mr Trump said.
“They’ve become like a political organisation, and that’s not a good thing.”
OK here we go, the final day.
Full disclosure, I am extremely pumped for these conventions to be over. After the last fortnight, I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to be spoken to by someone who isn’t reading the words off a teleprompter.
You know that scene at the end of The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo tells Sam he can’t recall the taste of food, nor the feeling of grass or whatever? Yeah, that’s me right now.
So, who is speaking today? I’m glad you asked. There’s this fellow named Donald Trump, you may have heard of him.
Otherwise, we’re looking at the President’s daughter Ivanka – as the undisputed favourite child, she’s been saved for last – Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. He’s always fun.
A man of many faces, all of them terrifying.
We’re still a little under two hours away from the start of proceedings, but fear not, there is plenty to talk about.
First up, let’s discuss the setting for Mr Trump’s speech. He is going to be speaking from the South Lawn of the White House, with the building itself serving as a rather impressive backdrop.
That’s an unusual move, and by unusual, I of course mean unprecedented. No other president has ever used the White House as a prop for their political convention before.
A bunch of professorial types have expressed discomfort with Mr Trump’s choice of setting. You know, history professors, presidential historians, government ethics lawyers – the sort of experts Republicans would probably dismiss as “coastal liberal elites”.
“There still is a boundary between politics and governing, and the Oval Office and White House are a public site meant for the country that isn't meant to be a political backdrop,” Princeton Professor Julian Zelizer told ABC News, for example.
“To just use it as the major site for a convention speech seems like a lot with President Trump – you just take all the guardrails down.”
Of course, it’s going to happen despite those objections, because Donald Trump is the President and that’s what he wants. It should make for some stunning television.
These tweets from CBS correspondents Paula Reid and Mark Knoller give us a little preview of the set-up.
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) August 27, 2020
Social distancing not in effect for seats set up for Pres Trump’s convention speech tonight on the South Lawn. pic.twitter.com/qTIQJamLAa
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 27, 2020
As Knoller noted, those chairs are not very far apart, which seems … rather unwise?
The US has reported another 40,000 coronavirus cases today, and a thousand deaths. If any country on earth needs to keep practising social distancing, it’s that one.
But hey, I guess it’ll look good on TV.