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[Dave Barry] The mood at Republican convention

Spoiler alert, the Republicans went ahead and actually nominated Donald Trump. The theme of the night was “Make America An Adjective Or Verb Again,” and the highlight speaker was Chris Christie, who had the crowd on its feet when he presented DNA evidence linking Hillary Clinton to a 17-state string of bank robberies. The evening ended on an inspirational note with Melania Trump leading the delegates in singing an original song she mostly wrote herself called “This Land Is Your Land.”

(I promise that’s the last Melania Trump plagiarism joke, unless I think of more.)

Meanwhile the streets of Cleveland continue to teem with lunatics and media people, not that there is always an obvious difference. Among the sights I observed while wandering around out there were:

— Some women from the antiwar group Code Pink wearing only brassieres above the waist, with the words “BUST UP WAR” written across their cleavages.

— A man wearing a T-shirt that said “FURNITURE LIVES MATTER.” I asked him what the shirt meant, and he said “It means we have a furniture company here in Cleveland.”

— A man exercising his “open-carry” rights by carrying an AR-15 rifle and two Glock 19 pistols, all of which he said were loaded. He also had a Taser. This man was fully prepared to defend himself from any potential threat he might encounter on the streets of Cleveland, including North Korea.

I also ran into a candidate for president. Really. His name is Zoltan Istvan, and he’s the candidate of the Transhumanist Party. If I understood him correctly, the Transhumanists want to use science to replace our weak and frail limbs and organs and skeletons with high-tech mechanical body parts, so we can live forever, like gods, or Hugh Hefner. He told me he has a chip in his hand that he can use to send texts or start his car.

Istvan said he is currently polling fifth among all presidential candidates, and is running especially strong in — surprise! — Florida. He believes he has enough support in Florida that his vote total could actually determine the outcome of the general election. “My entire campaign is based on Florida,” he said. If you think he’s crazy, I have two words for you, and those words are: “hanging chads.”

I asked Istvan where he stands on the issue of low-flow toilets, which I strongly oppose, as an American and a human being.

“I have a very interesting position on that,” he said. “We’re trying to upgrade humans to machines. We think pooping and peeing is a waste of time. I’m also in favor of getting rid of eating and drinking.”

“Wait,” I said. “Including beer?”

He laughed, but he did not directly answer. So you can put me down as “undecided.”

Shortly after I talked with Istvan a stocky, angry-looking man in a blue blazer came striding into Cleveland Public Square, flanked by some large bodyguard-looking guys and trailed by a pack of media people. This was Alex Jones, a popular radio host who believes that many events, such as 9/11 and the so called “moon landings,” were actually government conspiracies.

I fell in with the media pack, and we followed Jones across the square toward some guys — communists, I think — who were holding a red flag. Jones strode up to them, and they engaged in a thoughtful and constructive exchange of views that left everybody more enlightened.

Ha ha! Wouldn’t that be ridiculous? What actually happened was that Jones got a bullhorn and started shouting “Dirty communists!” at the communists, who responded by shouting “Nazi scum!” This attracted a large crowd, everybody pressing forward. Suddenly a scuffle broke out between Jones and the communists, and I found myself trapped in a surging, shoving, shouting mass of people. For a moment it was a scary, out-of-control scene of looming violence, not unlike a child’s birthday party when the pinata finally breaks open.

Fortunately the police, who are everywhere here, moved in quickly. They escorted Jones out of there and formed a barrier separating the crowd, with the communists on one side and most of the rest of us, including me, on the other. For a few minutes the two sides yelled things at each other, including this exchange between a man next to me and the communists:

MAN: I don’t want Trump OR Clinton!
COMMUNISTS: Neither do we!

Which, when you think about it, pretty much sums up the national mood.

By Dave Barry

Dave Barry is a former Miami Herald columnist on special assignment. He will be reporting next week from the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, and he promises to be just as unfair. –Ed.

(Tribune Content Agency)
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