| The Rose Report |

Everything’s Going My Way, For Now

As Biden struggles, Trump is riding high

Donald Trump couldn’t have written a better script as he prepares to ascend the stage to accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination next Thursday night in Milwaukee.

Trump has widened his lead in polls nationwide and in several must-win swing states following Joe Biden’s disaster in Atlanta.

While the margins of his lead are still slim enough to be overcome, the Democratic Party is befuddled and mired in upheaval and discord. The Biden presidency’s meltdown has become a greater existential threat in their minds than global warming. It no longer matters who leads the Democratic ticket in November. The second-guessing season is well underway, and that’s a game that has no winners.

What else is going well for Trump?

His three handpicked Supreme Court justices cemented a conservative majority that handed him a major victory with a broad ruling on presidential immunity that may shield Trump from prosecution in some cases against him, or water down the charges in others.

The threat hanging over his head that a New York judge would sentence him this week in the “hush money” case and that Trump would either have to deliver his acceptance speech from a prison cell or have an AI duplicate stand in for him has been lifted, as Judge Juan Merchan postponed sentencing until September in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

Trump is also benefiting from having engineered a “friendly takeover” of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Formerly a stodgy, independent body promoting party-wide interests, the RNC is now an inseparable part of the Trump campaign. Under the new leadership of Michael Whatley, past chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, and Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, the RNC is choreographing the Milwaukee convention as a show of wall-to-wall, pro-Trump solidarity.

Critics of this new process contend that the RNC’s overweighting of the presidential campaign will backfire, leaving fewer resources to support Republicans running for the Senate, House, and state and local government races.

We’ll know better when all the votes are counted in November. Until then, Lara Trump supporters note that she is a prolific fundraiser. She raised over $141 million in her first two months on the job in March and April, outpacing Democrats, who collected $123 million in the same span.

Perhaps Lara Trump’s biggest contribution to her party will be in the attitude adjustment department. She has strongly encouraged Republicans to drop their objections to early voting and mail-in balloting, which is the way an increasing number of Americans choose to vote and a method that the Republicans have allowed Democrats to usurp to their advantage.

Disrupting the Disruptor

With everything seeming to be going Trump’s way, is there anything lurking out there that could disrupt his momentum?

The answer is yes, and it might begin with controversy over the party platform.

Convention delegates are normally asked to formally adopt the party’s platform, which Ballotpedia describes as “an outline of the party’s principles, goals, and positions on domestic and foreign affairs.”

Most of the time, a party platform has a short shelf life, like the average politician’s promise. But sometimes it can be weighty, and at other times, it can be controversial.

Looking back at the 2016 convention that nominated Trump for the first time, presidential scholar Tevi Troy credited David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt for working behind the scenes to include a plank supporting US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and excluding any mention of the two-state solution. Troy noted this in an essay in the Spring 2024 edition of National Affairs, arguing that platforms serve an important purpose.

“In an age of sound bites and selective reporting, they give people a clear view of where the parties stand on specific issues and how they prioritize our nation’s challenges,” Troy wrote.

In 2020, the party stuck with its 2016 platform. This year, Trump has exerted control over drafting a new platform, mainly to ensure that the party’s position on abortion is strong enough to satisfy pro-life, evangelical conservatives and vague enough so it doesn’t turn off independent voters that Trump needs to win in November. Disputes over this issue could mar an otherwise harmonious convention and give Democrats some campaign fodder to proclaim that the Republican’s shadow platform is to deprive people of their rights.

A second pitfall is the chance that street protests could disrupt orderly proceedings. The Secret Service and Milwaukee police have set up security perimeters, and if you can’t show them convention credentials, there’s no getting past them. But that won’t stop both legitimate protestors and outside agitators from encroaching and stretching the boundaries. Forceful police intervention, or a summons to the National Guard, will make distracting headlines and also provide Democrats with the opportunity to claim that a vote for the Republicans is a vote for a police state, exaggerated as that sounds.

Trump’s Applause Meter

There is also the chance that none of the above happens, and a controlled convention becomes a predictable and dull Trump-fest. A boring convention attracts less media coverage and low ratings, which would work against Trump, who thrives on living in the limelight.

Trump knows how to liven up a show, as he did in 2016, when he made an impromptu appearance onstage in the early days of the convention, breaking the accepted protocol that the presidential nominee remains in the background until the final hour, when he appears with great fanfare to deliver his acceptance speech. He and the convention organizers will have to think on their feet to arouse public interest over the four-day proceedings.

It will be worth breaking out the applause meter to gauge the overall reaction and enthusiasm levels of Republican delegates. Aside from the small numbers of hard-core “anyone but Trump” activists, it’s no secret that a sizable percentage of party members would have preferred another candidate besides Donald Trump. But no viable alternative emerged in the primaries, even though Nikki Haley came closest to generating some buzz.

Look to see who the party showcases by awarding them speaking slots. The party’s 2028 nominee may be a diamond in the rough who exhibits flair and charisma and maybe even a few policy prescriptions to make life better for the average American.

But this is 2024. By next Thursday night, Trump will be his party’s nominee. Republicans will have two choices: to close ranks behind him, or to mope through the rest of the campaign and stay at home in November, forever regretting that they handed the Democrats a life raft to straighten a sinking ship.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1019)

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