Say what you will about Donald Trump's sinister speech at the Republican National Convention, it achieved one of its primary goals: Trump now owns the mantle of "change" in this election.
Trump confirmed his candidacy not only as a break from the political status quo, but also from U.S. presidential rhetoric and democratic norms as they've evolved over more than two centuries. His speech deliberately exhumed Richard Nixon's darkest impulses while divorcing itself, utterly, from Nixon's intellectual depth and creativity.
Trump departed not only from politics as usual, but American history and culture as usual, offering himself as a man of destiny, Putinesque or Peronist, and as the singular, heroic, unrebuttable answer -- "I alone" -- to every national question.
How does Hillary Clinton follow that?
Just as Cleveland was largely cast as a prosecution -- replete with the creepy, oft-shouted refrain of "Lock her up!" -- the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this week can't help but be something of a defense.