The third night of the convention is off to a characteristic start, which is to say that it’s been another bizarre evening filled with fourth-rate public figures who speak like they have pool balls in their cheeks. The theme is “Make America First Again,” which means that the speeches are a hodgepodge. The overriding sentiment is still “Jail Hillary Clinton,” but there’s been room to talk about the space program and race relations and entrepreneurship, as well as Trump’s business acumen. (Those latter testimonials came from two of the jowliest men in the history of jowls.)
The crowd, though, only wants one kind of speech: A fiery one about how America is on the road to damnation because of the treason of Hillary Clinton, and how only one man, a sponge-skinned racist millionaire from Queens, can save it. This is the kind of speech that Rudy Giuliani gave on the first night of the convention and that Chris Christie gave on the second. The crowd at the RNC is a mob and it only really locks in when it’s being treated like one.
On Wednesday, talk radio host Laura Ingraham whipped them into a frenzy, only to have one of the jowly millionaires (Treasure Island casino owner Phil Ruffin) deflate the energy. Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott roused them again, only to have the other jowly millionaire (Harold Hamm, who won the award for having the most Pynchonesque name at the RNC) take the crowd out.
Of course, an applause meter is an inexact tool, but it’s also a way of understanding the electorate: The people at the RNC only want to hear what Trump has told them, which is that Hillary Clinton is corrupt and needs to be jailed.