I totally missed the naked women protest. It turns out they held it before I got here. The Daily Mail ran a story about it headlined: “Over 100 nude women pose against Trump in Cleveland,” which sounds almost as if these naked women were in direct physical contact with Donald Trump — I imagine that would have been fine with him — but that isn’t what happened.
What happened, according to the Daily Mail story, is that 130 women “of all shapes, colors and sizes” got naked and held mirrors aimed toward the convention arena to send a clear and unmistakable message indicating something clear and unmistakable. The article has photographs of the women, but they are holding their mirrors strategically. One of the participants, an art professor and artist named MaPo Kinnord, is quoted as saying: “To be totally naked and out in the open and to be fearless is what we need to be.”
As a concerned American, I agree 100 percent with this statement, and I would only add the words “with smaller mirrors.”
Anyway, in search of other things to report I made my way to downtown Cleveland, which has been cheerfully decorated for the convention with 17,000 miles of concrete barricades and high metal fences patrolled by police officers, FBI and Secret Service agents, canine units, helicopters, drones, etc., all combining to send the festive message: WELCOME TO CLEVELAND! PLEASE REMAIN ABSOLUTELY MOTIONLESS WHILE A DOG SNIFFS YOUR PRIVATES.
I eventually got through security and reached the convention arena, which locals call the “Q,” an abbreviation for “LeBron James Arena.” The main hall has been decked out in red, white and blue, and as I walked in — call me a patriot if you want — I choked up a little bit when I heard the song that the house band was playing, beginning with these timeless words, which now, more than ever, our troubled nation needs to hear:
“She was a fast machine
“She kept her motor clean…”
Performing this AC/DC classic was the GE Smith Band, which is so butt-kickingly good that it actually produces dancelike movements in Republican delegates, no mean feat. I listened for a while, then decided to join Los Angeles Times photographer Brian van der Brug, who was heading out in search of a rumored protest march. Outside we encountered legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, who was wandering around the exterior of the “Q” looking confused. I said hello, and he said, “I’m trying to find the entrance to this thing.”
“Wow!” I said. “And you used to be known as a great investigative journalist!”
“I know!” he said. “Now I can’t even get into a [bad word] building!”
Brian and I got him pointed in the right direction, then headed out of the security perimeter in search of the protest march, which proved elusive. As we wandered through the streets, a small but determined woman, seeing my press credential, physically stopped me and said, quote: “I am from Egypt. Legal immigrants are for Trump, and I will tell you why.”
She then proceeded to tell me, emphatically, why she, a legal immigrant, was for Trump. I followed my usual journalism procedure in these situations, which is to pretend I am taking notes on what the person is saying. (My notes say “Emphatic Egyptian woman.”) When she finally finished her statement about Trump, we had this exchange:
ME: What about his hair?
WOMAN: I love it! It’s America!
Finally, after much wandering, we found the protest march. I have been to every national political convention since 1984, and I have seen many street protests, and I am here to tell you that, despite the fervent desire of the protesters to be edgy, they are by far the most traditional actors in the kabuki theater of American politics.
These protesters were no exception: They were mostly young people carrying signs expressing their opposition to racism, sexism, fascism and of course capitalism, and they were shouting slogans that only they were listening to. They were far outnumbered by the news media and the police, who were busy closing streets so the protesters could pass through, to the annoyance of the actual public.
In the midst of the protest crowd I spotted a bearded man wearing unusual clothing and a large rubber boot on his head. This was my old friend Vermin Supreme, who is running for president, as always, on a three-pronged platform of (1) free ponies for every American, (2) zombie-apocalypse awareness and (3) mandatory toothbrushing. You may laugh, but he finished fourth in the New Hampshire Democratic primary with 259 votes. Really. At the Cleveland protest he was hitting himself with a pool noodle and yelling “STOP RESISTING!”
Right now he’s looking pretty sane to me.