Steve Otto Columns
Otto: Let's get the RNC over with already
OK, want to try this convention thing again? We're ready — so ready I'm hearing more than a few of you will be happy when it's all over. In the past half-dozen or so conventions I've attended, I've never felt more like I was in a war zone than this one. Even in Philadelphia, where I was mugged by a horse and a cop (at the same time) as I was getting out of my car, most of the city didn't have that martial law feel. I know they issued those khaki uniforms to the police bused in around here to make them seem less intimidating, but to see them wandering about the city in ganglike groups is a little creepy. I suppose that's the intent, but I'll be glad when it's over. At least, and we are nothing but honest around here, you might be getting a break by missing some of those opening-night speeches. And you did get a free afternoon and evening to soak in (so to speak) a little more flavor of the Big Guava.You know, while everyone is still drying out their red-white-and-blue outfits, it might be worthwhile to take a few minutes this morning to again consider that truly remarkable moment when Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the lunar surface and the world was transfixed. We don't have many of those moments anymore, and even more dismaying is that the dreamers seem so silent. This convention seems less a gathering of dreams and aspirations than it does class warfare. But it's never too late. Reader "Pentagonmaverick," who collects old booksand wants to be sure you know he doesn't share these views, did find this article from a 103-year-old booklet called "Emergencies." "With thousands of visitors in town this week and some just maybe trying out our street car," he writes, "there is this passage on climbing on and off." "Many accidents occur, especially to women and girls. … Women do not seem to learn as readily as men the right way to do this. Some day, stand on the street and watch a group of women get on and off and count the number that do it correctly." Don't you know how that might go over if they posted it on the streetcar? I wonder if those things float. So I'm in Lykes Gaslight Square watching the latest group of maybe 200 protesters heading down the street. I was admiring one guy lugging a giant spoon that I think was wrapped in aluminum foil and was supposed to be Mitt Romney's "silver spoon.'' That's when I noticed one of the protesters discreetly relieving himself. He was as discreet as you can be in a postage-stamp-size park with hundreds of people around. You know, we're not supposed to get involved with what's going on, but hey. So I slipped over and told the guy there were dozens of portable toilets about a block away. That set him off on a spiel I can't repeat except that somewhere in his rant he hollered, "This isn't my blankety-blank country any more!" I wonder if that's part of the problem: That we have become so polarized, so entrenched that neither side is willing to do more than barely coexist much less listen to the other.
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