Jack Tame: The power of Donald Trump

By Jack Tame

Trump, a presidential candidate like no other, gets the rock-star treatment at a convention like nothing the US has ever seen.

Trump walks out. People know it's time before Ivanka finishes her final lines. Father and daughter embrace. They kiss on each cheek. He touches her hip and she brushes by and away.

Trump's tall. His necktie is blood red. He doesn't turn his head when he wants to look around a room. He turns his whole body. His back and neck are rigid. He reaches the podium and looks out left, out right, each at 45 degrees.

Trump luxuriates.

TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!

The dude sucks it in. Soaks in it. Can you imagine? That moment, that fraction, the whole world waiting on your first words? That moment must be ecstasy. The crowd is baying, squealing. He inhales. Exhales.

That moment is power.

"I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States."

Lolz. "Humbly." Good one, Don! At least you've got a sense of humour. An overweight man in striped pants and braces is the first delegate on the floor to sit down. A girl at the foot of the stage snaps at the cameras and reporters as they barge and scrap for room on their knees. She's a dog protecting a meal.

Get back! Get back!

US political conventions cannot be compared with anything in New Zealand politics. The grandeur and pageantry, the money, the shamefacedness of it all!

But it's human instinct to follow the leader. Human instinct to cheer when the crowd cheers, and to chant when the crowd chants. This crowd, red, blue and oh-so-white, reminds me of a prehistoric tribe.

"LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!"

Trump just mentioned Hillary. The tribe is headed for a hunt. Seething and ravenous, manic and mad.

"LOCK HER UP!"

Start with a good rock concert.

No one wants to hear the headliner's experimental B-sides. No one wants nuance and no one wants new.

The crowd just wants the bangers.

"BUILD THAT WALL! BUILD THAT WALL!"

Mix the rock concert with a bizarre Sunday service at a super out-there church. People with hands in the air, crying and praying aloud, maybe even fainting if the temperature allows.

"USA! USA! USA!"

Every now and then, Trump joins in.

A good speaker treats his audience like a fly-fisherman treats a trout. Gently. With cunning. Tease. Tease. Tease.

I suppose it's like sex. The speaker and the audience draw each other out, build to a crescendo.

Trump is too brash for this. He delivers every second sentence as if it is the final line of his speech, though he is improved on the teleprompter.

Occasionally he is funny. Purposefully so. He makes faces and gestures. Watching him joke, delights.

But the bones of Trump's speech do not.

America could be war-torn and bankrupted, decimated, for the way he speaks. Everything is bad. Everything is scary. Everyone wants to hurt you.

I was in Florida when Mitt Romney gave his speech at the Republican Convention four years ago. In Charlotte when Barack Obama did the same.

This speech was different. This speech was designed to invoke fear. And it did.

Trump closes. The crowd rises. The balloons are released from the roof and in Cleveland the sky is falling down.

• Catch Jack Tame live on Newstalk ZB from 9am today

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 27 Sep 2016 13:40:11 Processing Time: 522ms