Red states. Reagan red. The red of President Trump’s favorite ties. There’s so much red in the recent mythology of the Republican Party, it’s little wonder, really, that it was the predominant color worn by speakers on the opening day of the Republican National Convention.
It stood out on the stage flanked by the towering Doric columns of the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., where many of the speeches aired Monday night were recorded, even against the row of American flags. On Natalie Harp, as she told of surviving cancer and the “right to try”; on Tanya Weinreis, the coffee shop owner whose business was one of the first to receive a Paycheck Protection Program grant in Montana; on the closing speaker, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. (Though not on Donald Trump Jr., who chose a silvery blue tie for his own excoriation of the rival party.)
But on no one did red stand out quite so much as it did on Kimberly Guilfoyle, senior fund-raising official for the Trump campaign, former Fox News host and Mr. Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, as she gave what was the perhaps the most … fiery speech of the night.
“Very forceful speech, Jake, from Kimberly Guilfoyle,” said Wolf Blitzer to Jake Tapper on CNN.
“Forceful is one word for it,” responded Mr. Tapper, who looked somewhat taken aback.
Taking the stage in a flaming red sheath dress, Ms. Guilfoyle started loud and got louder, shouting into the void of an auditorium emptied in accordance with pandemic regulations. As her decibels rose (and rose; she spoke the way the president tweets), so did the urgency.
“They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear,” she cried of the Democrats. “They want to steal your liberty, your freedom, they want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.” At the end she raised both her arms, in the classic pose of Eva Perón as immortalized by “Evita.”
Yikes! Well, they do say politics is a blood sport.
Combined with her words, her red dress was like a beacon: the red of a stop sign, of alarm, of warning, of danger. The red that conveys a message understood widely even without words the world over. The red of “seeing red” fury and Mars, god of war.
The red that spawned an immediate host of associations in online viewers and related memes, with multiple comparisons to “Game of Thrones,” fire and brimstone and Rita Repulsa of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Also assorted other fantasy films.
And all that hi-octane red overshadowed the somewhat more diluted pink of Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina, which matched her more modulated tone and (slightly more modulated) message.
Of course, there is some irony in the fact that traditionally red is also associated with socialism, a label that several speakers, including Ms. Guilfoyle, attempted to paste on the Democrats as a scarlet S sign of shame.
And that the last celebrity to really make red a political statement was Jane Fonda during her #firedrillfridays, when her red coat became a symbol of protest in her drive to raise awareness around the climate crisis, which the Trump administration denies.
But then, this is a different show.