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Fear and Loathing in Cleveland

Dreading the specter of a Trump coronation by the lake

As Lewis writes, the Cavaliers' recent NBA Finals victory may not be a harbinger of better things to come for the GOP when the party hosts its convention in Cleveland in July. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
As Lewis writes, the Cavaliers' recent NBA Finals victory may not be a harbinger of better things to come for the GOP when the party hosts its convention in Cleveland in July. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nominating Donald Trump as the GOP standard-bearer will be the most “Cleveland” thing that has happened since Johnny Manziel donned that fake wig in Vegas.  

How did Cleveland get the Republican National Convention? To paraphrase Tony Kornheiser  — what, Toledo was booked?  

There are only a handful of cities in America with the infrastructure to appropriately accommodate a meeting of this magnitude. Vegas and New Orleans should get most of this business. Cleveland doesn’t even crack the top 20.  

Now, maybe I’m weird. Maybe you’ve been feeling an almost animalistic drive pulling you toward the Buckeye State. Maybe you think the Cavs victory is a harbinger of glorious things to come (Note: I only kick a city when it’s “up”)!  

And maybe even I will have a change of heart when the speeches are made and the ticker tape is swept up. Maybe I will finally understand what Jack Donaghy meant when he told Liz Lemon: “We’d all like to flee to the Cleve and club-hop down at the Flats and have lunch with Little Richard, but we fight those urges because we have responsibilities.”  

But I doubt it.  

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I have spent months dreading my imminent trip to Cuyahoga County.  

There are several reasons for this. The first is that I’ll be “covering” the convention, which sounds way more glamorous than it is. It involves little sleep and a lot of standing in security lines. Oh yeah, and bad Wi-Fi. (My editor already put the kibosh on covering it Hunter Thompson-style, from a hotel pool in Akron.)  

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Now, I’ll concede that average political junkies might have a different perspective. Done right, a political convention — even in a place like the Cleve — can sound like a bacchanalian orgy of parties and dangerous liaisons (see Rob Lowe, 1988 ). But as the manager in “Spinal Tap ” put it, “Do you know what I spend my time doing? I sleep two or three hours a night. There’s no sex and drugs for Ian, David. Do you know what I do? I find lost luggage. I locate mandolin strings in the middle of Austin.”  

(Hello, Cleveland !)  

I could go on and on about this, but it would be self-indulgent navel-gazing that would only resonate with a handful of sleep-deprived and disaffected pundits (also known as my readership base). Instead, my time is much better spent offending hundreds of thousands of GOP party loyalists and citizens of the great state of Ohio. (The good news for me is that the populations of both groups are declining). So let’s turn to the fact that this is a city that might not be prepared for the mayhem and protests that are likely to ensue (picture Chicago, 1968) — and most certainly is not considered an ideal destination for anyone looking to be entertained for more than 48-hours.  

Let’s be honest, this is a star-crossed town; even Bill Belichick couldn’t win a Super Bowl there. A popular satirical Cleveland “tourism” video (viewed more than 8 million times on YouTube!) captures it well. With lyrics like “Under construction since 1868,” “See our river that catches on fire,” and “Buy a house for the price of a VCR,” I think you get the picture. The video ends poignantly, with the slogan, “At least we’re not Detroit.”  

But the obvious (and more politically demoralizing) problem is that the GOP has missed a golden opportunity to nominate an inspiring young conservative to defeat a very vulnerable Hillary Clinton. Instead, Republicans will spend a ton of money subjecting us to pomp and circumstance and hoopla in Cleveland, all to wind up nominating a 70-year old casino magnate whose campaign is, by most accounts, struggling.   

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Sure, we will all get excited when Trump picks Newt Gingrich (or someone) as his running mate. And the fact that there is talk of a “Never Trump” delegate putsch might add a touch of drama to the coverage. But at the end of the day, we’re left with Trump versus Hillary — a denouement that only reinforces the depressing nature of the 2016 election cycle.  

Could convening at the “Mistake on the Lake” be the perfect metaphor for the collapse of the Republican Party? Could the caricature of Donald Trump replace Chief Wahoo as the city’s politically incorrect mascot?    

Come to think of it, this might be the perfect spot.  

Roll Call columnist Matt K. Lewis is a Senior Contributor to the Daily Caller and author of the book “Too Dumb to Fail.” Follow him on Twitter @MattKLewis.


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