The first night of the Republican convention was angry and boring

Josh Barro/Business InsiderThe convention hall was almost empty at retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn spoke.

CLEVELAND — The vast majority of the delegates left the Republican National Convention hall before the program ended Monday night, leaving the Quicken Loans Arena looking like it might have back when the Cavaliers were terrible.

I can’t really blame the delegates who fled.

Donald Trump is supposed to be a consummate showman, so I figured the Republican convention he put together would, whatever its other flaws, be interesting. But Monday’s program managed to be simultaneously angry and boring.

Avik Roy, a former policy adviser to ex-candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, summed up the night’s theme well: “Brown people are making America less safe.”

The night was a primal scream: Immigrants living in the country illegally will kill you. Police officers are being unfairly prosecuted. The deaths at Benghazi were Hillary Clinton’s fault, personally. She should be in prison. Etcetera, etcetera.

Yet many of the speeches were long and boring, and they often had no particular content related to Donald Trump and why he ought to be president.

So it’s no surprise so many attendees and delegates chose to leave early — creating the unfortunate tableau of a panel of military veterans speaking to a nearly empty arena.

And in a way, it’s no surprise Donald Trump felt the need to counter-program his own convention.

Josh Barro/Business InsiderEven fewer people remained for Sen. Joni Ernst, considered a rising star within the GOP.

Trump called into Fox News for a phone interview during the 8 p.m. ET hour, preempting Pat Smith’s emotional speech about her son’s 2012 death at the consulate at Benghazi.

The Golf Channel aired a taped interview with Trump during the 9 p.m. hour.

And Trump himself made an unscheduled appearance onstage during the 10 p.m. hour, introducing his wife Melania, who managed to give a speech about how wonderful her husband is without giving specific examples.

So far, this convention is a demonstration of a deadly problem for Republicans. Donald Trump is angry and entertaining. When Trump isn’t on stage, Trump’s Republican Party is still angry, but it’s not entertaining.

If the convention continues like this, and it produces a polling bounce for Trump, I will be mystified as to why.

But it wouldn’t be the first mystifying thing to happen in this campaign.

This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.

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