The first two days of the RNC have been all about Clinton’s failings—as secretary of state, as first lady, as senator, and even as a wife. Nearly every major address has focused on some scandal or another, with particular attention paid to Benghazi and Clinton’s emails. Rather than making a case for Trump—as a man or a businessman or a leader or anything, really—the RNC has been devoted to prosecuting Clinton.
That prosecution has often been somewhat literal, as there have been repeated calls by speakers for Clinton to be jailed for her alleged crimes, which, if you’ve watched the spectacle in Cleveland, include theft, treason, cronyism, and murder, among many others. It’s amounted to an unhinged two-day negative ad about her. I can’t remember a single speaker who devoted significant attention to arguing on behalf of Trump or his agenda.
That’s by design. Obviously, some of it was because Trump wanted the convention to be a four-day memento mori focused on the death, destruction, and pestilence that would be visited upon America should Clinton be elected in November. But it’s also a reflection of the fact that the Republican Party is not united behind its candidate—or, at the very least, the elites who typically speak at party conventions aren’t united behind him.
Establishment figures like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of whom spoke on Tuesday night, barely mentioned Trump because they see him only as a means to an end; despite their distaste for his candidacy, they know he’s the only way that they can pass an agenda that cuts entitlements. But that distaste for Trump also explains the antipathy for Clinton: They can’t praise him, so all they have left is to attack his opponent.