The #TrumpCircus was always going to have some dumpster fire qualities to it. It would be disorganized (there wasn’t even a speaking list until two days before, and a schedule of when they would speak until the day before). It would be, uh, lacking in political firepower (with Bush, Romney and others skipping the festivities). It would be awkward at times (with so many non-Trump forces unhappy with the end result).
With all that said, the GOP convention was at least supposed to be exciting. Trump may not be a conservative and his political operation may be in way over their head, but Trump knows how to put on a great show, right? He’s a showman!
That somewhat surprisingly, hasn’t materialized. From an apolitical point of view, Donald Trump’s 2016 convention has been boring so far. Here are three reasons why:
– Only speeches: A convention, to the vast majority of the people in America, is a three-hour television show. Sure, there are the tiny minority of people in the arena and the even tinier minority of delegates who have some business to attend to. But from 8-11pmET, the convention should be a show. And there needs to be some showmanship! That shouldn’t be hard for Donald Trump. But it has been, largely thanks to the fact that it is just a bunch of speeches back-to-back. Speeches can be good, but they need context. Chris Christie spoke last night, and he did fine, but he was introduced with some voice saying “Here’s Chris Christie.” In 2012, here’s the short but powerful video played to introduce Christie. It gave context, it added emotion. Ben Carson spoke last night, and it was not great. But why not make a big deal about Ben Carson before walked out there? The guy is a hero! He is the only person in the world to successfully separate conjoined twins attached at the head! Make me a video about this! Kimberlin Brown closed things out last night. She was fine. But convince me, the viewer, why she should be the closer last night. Show, don’t tell. Make me care.
– Speech order: As Erick pointed out, the staging of this convention is off, and it largely has to do with the odd order of the speakers. Your sweet spot is the 10pmET hour when the largest percentage of the country is watching. But you have three hours to play with. Why was Christie, a marquee name at least, relegated to the hour before? Why wasn’t Donald Trump, Jr.’s powerful speech the note to end on? Dana White is a big name, all things considered. Why couldn’t he have been slotted into the 10pmET hour too? Joni Ernst is an up-and-coming senator from a key state. Why was she speaking AFTER 11pmET? Donald Trump has hosted dozens of seasons of The Apprentice. On The Apprentice there’s a formula that works to maximize interest (after all, it’s produced by Mark Burnett, one of the world’s greatest showmen). There are challenges, a boardroom, then at the end Trump says his signature “you’re fired.” It builds to a crescendo – there’s a payoff. Conventions should be thought of the same way. If Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence aren’t the final three speakers tonight as the 10pmET hour comes to a close, there’s a problem.
– Speech topics: I get it – immigration, terrorism, the threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency. These make for nice red meat topics in the arena. But on TV, they’re a downer. Conventions should be about inspiration – especially this one, where Trump needs to inspire a hefty portion of the country to consider voting for him when they don’t currently see that as an option. Inspiration and aspiration are two key ingredients for great entertainment. They are severely lacking from this year’s GOP convention.
The #TrumpCircus better get more entertaining tonight and tomorrow, or it’ll be quickly forgotten.