The split-screen reality: Trump’s convention and a world of tragedies

From The Washington Post:

In normal times, American political conventions command the attention of the world. They are carefully designed infomercials for the two main U.S. political parties and their presidential nominees. But they are only in part reality, and over the next two weeks, they will compete for attention with real and shocking events around the globe.

Television networks could be making split-screen decisions all week about where to focus their coverage and commentary. Judging by the home pages of news websites and newspaper front pages this weekend, it’s clear that politicians and their conventions will have no guarantee of prime space.

Because of events, Republicans this week and Democrats a week from now will be judged on far more than whether their conventions are well run and well produced, on whose video biography of the nominee is more compelling or whether the balloon drop works smoothly. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be measured by more exacting standards than usual. Can either speak in language strong enough to break through the wall of polarizing rhetoric with which both political parties seem most comfortable?

That bar has now been raised significantly. Normal politics might not be enough for the moment. The question is whether Trump and Clinton can rise to meet it. The real-world backdrop presents both an opportunity and a danger for the candidates. It’s questionable whether an electorate already highly dissatisfied with each candidate and the choice in November will judge the same old thing as adequate.

The rewards for success could be significant. Which candidate will be seen as more suited for the demands of the Oval Office in an uncertain time? Which candidate can voters imagine responding effectively to terrorist attacks? Who will be judged as equipped to bridge racial divisions and ease racial tensions? There will be nothing …

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