The Virtue of Mendacity

28 AUGUST 2020

President Trump converts White House into a super spreader on last night of Republican National Convention, but the First Lady stole stage and scene.

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via NPR

Donald Trump delivered his acceptance speech last night as the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States. A crowd of 2000 people gathered on the White House South Lawn without masks, or social distancing, during an unprecedented week in American history. Over 3,600 Americans have perished from Covid-19 this week — far more than died on 9/11 or from combat operations in Afghanistan — as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

The convention included a parade of Black, Latina, Native American and Asian female speakers, a tearful pardon for Jon Ponder, a former felon who grew up believing that the police “were my enemy,” and a naturalization ceremony welcoming immigrants to America.

Americans who tuned into this week’s Republican National Convention were treated to a narrative that defeated the pandemic, healed America’s racial wounds, and ushered in a booming economy. In this carnival of propaganda, Donald Trump was presented not just as a great president, but as a quasi-messianic figure who was single-handedly preventing the nation’s slide into anarchy.

Finally, in conjuring the image of herself as charitable First Lady, hopping the African continent to learn about the slave trade, Melania is playing that game, too, mirroring exactly her husband’s farce of magnanimity. As she tentatively maneuvered the topic of the nation’s unavoidable racism, proclaiming that our “diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong,” pundits online immediately produced the infamous interview, from 2011, of Melania questioning the birthplace of Barack Obama. It is easy, and also morally correct, to call out the First Lady’s hypocrisy. What matters, of course, is our own.

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