This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
Thursday was a night of troubled sleep throughout the land. In his long-awaited keynote speech, Republican nominee Donald Trump managed not just to confirm all of our worst fears about him, but to amplify them, make them 10 times darker and bigger, make them huuuuuuge! He got the fear job done better than anyone in the entire history of the country has gotten it done.
Let us just review what an amazing accomplishment this was. Rudy Giuliani kicked things off, commanding everyone to be much more terrified about crime, ISIS immigration and Black Lives Matter. Chris Christie roused the crowds with chants of “lock her up,” and “guilty as charged!” Ted Cruz delivered his same lizard-like stump speech, the one everyone assumed they’d be spared after he dropped out of the race. The accumulating horror was enhanced by the realization that the slick-backed Trump sons have themselves acquired a taste for politics and now feel qualified to bash teachers and environmental regulations, celebrate gun culture and espouse other tired conservative talking points.
But Trump took the crown. He patted his Ivanka on the butt, and then surpassed them all in 75 minutes of continuous bellowing horribleness. The moon was nearly full. A smoldering heat dome would come to blanket much of the country. Darkness descended. And the next day, the mainstream media sunnily gave him credit for his shout-out to the LGBTQ community.
Fear works, and we are genuinely afraid.
1. Ben Carson’s star turn
It was hard to stand out among all of the over-the-top Hillary bashing at the Republican National Convention, but somehow good ole Ben Carson — oh, how we have missed the antics of the good doctor — did everyone one better. While others merely called for a hanging at dawn, the former GOP frontrunner calmly drew the connection between Clinton and the devil. Yeah. That guy. Lucifer.
Carson began his speech by impersonating a sane person, talking seemingly rationally about the brain. It was lulling, soothing even. Then he segued, and before you knew it, Lucifer was in the house, linked to that other antichrist, Hillary. A hanging would no longer suffice. We need an exorcism.
“So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.” Carson said. He was referring to Saul Alinsky, author of "Rules For Radicals," who kiddingly mentioned Lucifer in his acknowledgements, and who Hillary Clinton studied in college, nearly half a century ago. But there’s no joking when it comes to the devil, and no connection too tenuous when it comes to taking down the devil who wears if not Prada, then Armani pantsuits.
Think about that, the brain surgeon said, after rambling on about the connection he alone has ferreted out. He then speculated that electing Clinton might really cause God to forsake America. The crowd cheered.
Anyone else relieved that at least he no longer practices medicine?
2. Rep. Steve King doesn’t even bother to disguise his racism
It’s very possible that Iowa rep. Steve King has zero concept of white supremacy. It is simply the water in which this fish swims in. So perhaps it should not have been too much of a surprise this week when the rabid anti-immigration, Tea Partying congressman just came out and said during a live appearance on MSNBC that white people have basically been superior to all others throughout history and invented everything worthwhile.
His comments came about after host Chris Hayes asked a question about the racial makeup of the GOP.
Charles Pierce of Esquire was there and said: “If you’re really optimistic, you can say this was the last time that old white people would command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face.”
That did not sit well with King. “This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” he said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
Co-panelists were stunned. Hayes asked for clarification. Did he mean what it sounded like he just said?
We know this because, one, he said it really clearly, and two, he doubled down on his assertion of the superiority of the white European “subgroup” the next day. The man who tried to block Harriet Tubman from being on the $20 bill recently was 100 percent on-message for his party, as you'll see if you read on.
3. Jeffrey Lord makes truly unhinged comment about Trump’s speech
Of all the Trump sycophants CNN has given journalistic validation to, pseudo-historian Jeffrey Lord doesn’t just take the cake, he jumps out of the damn thing. In a field that includes Corey Lewandowski, who is still on the Republican candidate’s payroll, Lord still trumps all. This is a man who consistently espouses the view that the Democrats are more racist than the GOP today because just bringing up race is inherently racist, and the KKK was originally Democratic. (Funny, neither he nor any other right-winger points out that the KKK was also Christian, therefore Christian terrorists.)
Leaving that aside, Lord was asked on CNN for his comments on Trump’s RNC speech Thursday night. There had been talk of Trump being Reaganesque, but somehow “Morning in America” metastisized into “Armageddon in America.” The comparisons to Nixon’s “law and order” theme among the protests and social movements of the '60s seemed a bit more apt, but Lord is his own man — and a Trump-owned man — and he went for another dead president.
“To be honest, this reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt,” Lord said. “In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech called the 'Forgotten Man Speech.' Which he, he went through a list of people in America that had been left out, that no one paid attention to. He even cited the banks and the sort of things Trump cited here too. It sounded to me much like that, FDR said that we need to get back to common sense and business sense.”
No one questioned this absurd comparison to a Democratic president’s speech in which he talked about his own military service and laid out specific economic proposals to help ordinary Americans, subsequently greatly expanding the role of government and social programs.
A tiny morsel of information in the hands of a Trumpian is both a dangerous and sometimes hilarious thing.
4. David Duke, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Alex Jones — all weighed in
In the new Trumpian era, every right-wing crackpot has a voice and none gets denounced (as long as they pass the loyalty test). And so right-wing conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones went to Cleveland, waylaid Karl Rove at the airport, crashed a Young Turks set and denounced the officials who would not allow him to fly a “Hillary for Prison” banner over the entire city. (Compared to what was being said in the Quicken Loans Arena, that message now seems quaint.)
In the most Jonesian endorsement possible, Jones told the New Republic that Trump has long “been what you call a ‘closet conspiracy theorist’ for 50 years. I think he’s been a chameleon in the system, and now he sees the time to strike.”
And he's right, Trump is no longer in the closet with his conspiracy theories. His pivot to the general election included implicating Ted Cruz's father in Kennedy's assassination, because the National Enquirer said so.
David Duke and the rest of the white supremacist set kvelled over Trump’s “America First” harangue. The RNC even displayed a White Nationalist tweet as Trump accepted the nomination. The next day David Duke felt so good about the general Trumpian political climate that he announced his intention to run for Senate.
Coulter and Palin, while not on the all-star roster of speakers with Scott Baio, performed attack-dog duty on Ted Cruz for his refusal to endorse Trump.
So you see, Trump’s GOP really is pitching a big tent inclusive enough for some of the most heinous performers on the planet.
5. General Michael Flynn patiently explains to an actual Muslim that he is wrong about Islam
On the short-list for vice president, Trump endorser General Michael Flynn was seemingly everywhere this week. The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and harsh Obama critic was there at the RNC droning on disturbingly and tediously about how political correctness has impaired our country’s ability to fight and properly label terrorism. Delivery-wise, Flynn is similar to Trump. He simply stands there and yells at people for as long as he's at the podium.
The speech got almost no attention. As much as Flynn and Trump are a uni-mind when it comes to Muslim-bashing, political correctness and Putin admiration, the general’s slot was not in primetime.
Later in the week, in the interest of balance, Brian Lehrer opened his NPR coverage of the RNC with some commentary and a call-in segment with the tightly wound General Flynn. Part of the discussion centered on the label General Flynn and other Republicans insist on, "Islamic terrorism," which moderate Muslims, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have all said needlessly offends an entire religious group. But Flynn knows better than Muslims do. “Islamic terrorism,” he insists, is a cancer within the religion. He knows, because he just knows, and that’s what he told a caller who tried to explain the damaged feelings the label causes among moderate Muslims.
It was jarring on public radio where people at least attempt to listen to and learn from one another, and a reminder that the General, to whom Trump is likely to give a prominent role if he gets elected, is not really going to listen to anyone he disagrees with.