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The Arizona MAGA Rally was another great success, no thanks to the new Arizona Republican Party Chairman. The structure of these rallies is set and well known by now. President Trump is the headliner, and he will bring up a person who he wants to highlight during his speech. Before that, there are a series of opening acts, following the consistent opening ceremony, comprised of: the Pledge of Allegiance, public prayer invocation, and the National Anthem. Stunningly, the new guy in Arizona, Jonathan Lines, managed to mangle both the National Anthem and the opening acts.
Setting the Scene:
You must understand that MAGA rallies are paid for by the Donald J. Trump campaign. If you didn’t know that, you were informed as you approached the Secret Service screening point. A big screen, with closed captions, and speakers generating plenty of volume, informed attendees that President Trump values and defends the First Amendment, so he provides a designated protest area. However, since this is a paid-for venue, disruptive speech will lead to removal from the venue. Supporters are instructed how to non-violently drown out would-be disruptive individuals, cueing law enforcement to escort them out without giving the media what they want.
The physical set-up is always the same. A set of risers behind the podium and lectern provide the visual of super-supporters and elected officials, facing the riser full of media, across the sea of standing, waving, chanting rally attendees. A variety of signs, with different messages, are provided after the screening point. It has become a bit like a long-running cult film or musical act, where the audience participates with actions and well-known lines.
You must further understand that “crazy” has become a powerful weapon in the McSally-Sinema Senate Race. Sinema was caught on video, out of state, calling Arizonans “Crazy.” So, several signs carried variations on “crazy” at the Arizona rally. “Crazy Voting Deplorable,” “5 C’s of Arizona,
Crazy,” “Crazy to Vote Democrat.” Martha McSally is swinging this hammer at Sinema daily. She drove it home in her MAGA rally speech with President Trump standing next to her.
Crazy Opening Act?
The rally started normally, sort of. The Arizona GOP Chairman stepped up to the microphone, acting as the MC. He bungled the location, saying “Phoenix,” when we were clearly in the east end of Mesa for reasons having to do with Phoenix Democrat craziness. But, he got the first guy introduced and we said the Pledge of Allegiance with red MAGA hats over hearts. We bowed our heads for the invocation. Some took lines in the invocation as an occasion for cheering, a secular variant on some faith traditions’ mid-prayer “amens” or “yes, Lord.” Then the MC, the Arizona GOP Chairman, stepped back up to introduce the National Anthem performer.
It was his wife with another woman. He proudly informed us that his wife was the mother of 11 children and that he was one of 10 children. While this is a clear signal of his virtue as a Mormon, it was irrelevant, potentially distracting, and hinted at trouble ahead, as neither his job, nor the MAGA rally was about him. But, alright, we were there for President Trump and victory in November, so bless him and his lovely family.
The two women stepped up to the lectern and began to sing. Yikes. There is a long, regrettable, painful history of performers deciding the National Anthem is about them, resulting in all manner of vocal, musical gymnastics, contortions, and distortions. There are times when the audience braces itself before the performance. It ought never be so.
It is not about you. It is not supposed to be an American Idol audition. It is about honoring the Nation and our heroes. Just freakin’ sing it, straight! The very best, the truly great, get this and get out of the way, lending their vocal gifts to a reverent rendition.
So, was the Arizona audience, and the nation through the media, subjected to painfully bad or wildly inappropriate phrasing? No. Was it off-key caterwauling? No. Worse. In the midst of a hotly contested election, critical to Arizona and America, we were treated to an idiosyncratic choice of verses.
From the opening bar, we knew something was off, as it did not start “O, say can you see.” What we got was the final verse. Why? It was not cheered strongly, as would always happen with a good, rousing rendition of the verse every competent performer uses. We shrugged it off, but we had to shrug it off, carrying the rally instead of being aided by the Arizona Republican Party Chairman.
The man deserves no credit for the speakers that then stood forth. The candidate for Secretary of State, Arizona’s first in the line of succession to the governor, did a manly job. Congressman Andy Biggs has the MAGA conviction and delivered. Governor Ducey fired up the crowd and conveyed confidence in his further stewardship. Then . . . nothing.
Nothing but canned music for the better part of an hour, until the Presidential ground vehicles rolled up, followed by two V-22 Ospreys touching down in the dark outside the lighted hanger. Shortly after they lifted off, the distinct heavy beating of the Sikorsky engine and blades of Marine One filled the hanger, and the President strode up onto the podium.
Now, that time gap stood in stark contrast with the message of urgency, the message of voting straight Republican, the call to electoral zeal, in the face of Democrat Party cheating. The risers behind the President included other members of our Congressional delegation and candidates to state office. Each would have been welcomed by the crowd to air their two-minute pitch, ending with a consistent MAGA, get-out-and-vote theme. But, they were snubbed by their state party chairman.
A party chairman has one job: to defend and expand the offices held by the party. Not to facilitate “American Idol” audition tapes by family members. President Trump carried the rally, showing ever-increasing mastery of persuasive, public, political speaking. The candidates for office all sang in the key of GOP with MAGA variations. It was another smashing success, no thanks to the opening act MC.