Delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland made it official last night: Donald Trump is now the party’s 2016 presidential nominee. That has been effectively a foregone conclusion since Trump became the presumptive nominee, back on May 3rd—as has the fact that Trump’s victory would prove pyrrhic for the party he now leads. Over the past two months I’ve heard many, many Republicans strenuously rationalizing Trump’s ascent, but no amount of spin can negate the basic truth of the matter: the GOP has now nominated Trump for president of the United States. There’s really no reason for any Republican to celebrate that.
Most Republicans, in fact, are not celebrating that, and during yesterday’s proceedings it occurred to me that winning the nomination has arguably been a pretty pyrrhic victory for Trump, too. His eldest son, Don Trump Jr., spoke on his father’s behalf last night, and it was probably the best speech anyone has given about Trump at the convention thus far, because it was the first one that was clearly about Trump. (As BuzzFeed’s Joel D. Anderson points out, the revelations that Melania Trump pilfered freely from the speech Michelle Obama gave at the 2008 Democratic convention mean that the speech she gave about her husband on Monday was, in a sense, about Barack Obama.)
Don Trump Jr.’s account of his father’s determination, of the look that comes into his eyes when he’s told that he can’t do something, had a slightly ominous subtext for those who read McKay Coppins’s report last week about Trump’s long history of believing himself to be unduly scorned and sidelined. In any case, the speech was, at least, a plausible account of Trump’s character, from someone who knows him well. Everyone else, thus far, has had far less to say about Donald Trump than about Hillary Clinton. At the midway point of the convention, it’s abundantly clear that this is Trump’s main—if not only—attribute as a presidential nominee: he’s not her. We’ll see how well that will work in November. Polling, thus far, suggests that it’s not enough.