GOP convention takeaways: What virus? Fear motivates

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President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump refused to allow the coronavirus to deny him the crowd he craved for the Republican National Convention. He ordered up a scene never before seen at the White House: an American president using the South Lawn as the official backdrop for such overtly political activity. The federal guidelines about keeping distance, avoiding crowds and wearing masks to fight the spread of the virus were emphatically ignored.

Here are some key takeaways from the last night of the convention:

NO ‘SHINING CITY ON A HILL’

Trump made one thing abundantly clear in his speech accepting his party's renomination: He will try to turn political orthodoxy on its head again by trying to paint himself as an outsider even though he is the head of government.

His words were often foreboding, his new policies were few, and he gave only a vague idea of what four more years under him would bring. He used the White House as a stage in the way none of his predecessors had, and spoke of the deadly coronavirus pandemic as though his handling of it was an unqualified success.

In his 2016 convention address, Trump declared “I alone can fix it.” Four years later, after voters gave him a chance to prove it, Trump is now dealing — or his opponents would say not dealing — with multiple crises.

One thing has been clear: Trump believes the rhetoric of fear is far more powerful than words of hope.

Trump became a celebrity through highly effective branding, putting his name on buildings, airplanes, helicopters, hotels, golf courses, apparel, water and wine.