Dave Barry

Finally, a GOP debate on the issues! Zzzzzzzz....


I was looking for some action, so I went over to the University of Miami (official academic motto: “Our Students Are Hotter Than Your Students”) to watch the 239th Republican presidential debate.

They’re down to just four candidates now: Donald Trump and three guys who are not Donald Trump. There used to be a lot more Republican candidates. Remember? Back in the early debates, there were candidates lined up across the stage on either side of Donald Trump as far as the eye could see. The ones on the edges — your Scott Walkers, your Rand Pauls — had to shoot up marine flares to get the moderators to notice them.

But now there’s just Trump and the trio. A large crowd of journalists was on hand for the debate, hoping to see a thoughtful and civil discussion of the issues.

Ha! I am of course pulling your leg. We journalists were hoping to see a continuation of the tone of the previous debate, in which, among other things, Trump assured the American people that (1) he does not have small hands, and (2) there is no problem with his Trumphood.

This is the kind of debate action we journalists love to see, so we can write irate opinion pieces about how appalled we are. It’s the kind of action that has made the Republican debates so much more fun than the Democratic debates, which consist of Bernie Sanders frowning like a man with a near-fatal case of irritable bowel syndrome while Hillary Clinton declares that she is going to fight for you, and has been fighting for you since before she was born, and is going to keep fighting for you, fighting fighting fighting for you, and even if you beg her to stop, she will keep on fighting for you because SHE IS A FIGHTER. FOR YOU.

So we journalists look to the Republicans for entertainment, and in this last debate they totally failed us by being civil. During one of the debate breaks, I went to get coffee, and I chatted briefly with a British reporter, who spoke for all of us when he said: “I want somebody to talk about the hands.”

Instead, they talked about the issues. Here is a summary of what they said, with “X” representing whatever the issue was:

MARCO RUBIO: I understand about X, because my father was a bartender. Here are 16 specific things I would do about X (lists things). America. I can repeat this answer verbatim as needed.

TED CRUZ: The problem with X is Washington, and I am the only person who can solve it, because everybody in Washington loathes me. And with good reason. Just listen to how I talk.

JOHN KASICH: Here’s how we handled X in Ohio. First we implemented a seriezzzzzzzz (everybody falls asleep, including Kasich).

DONALD TRUMP: X is a disaster. It’s a terrible deal, I can tell you that. I know about X, believe me. I know more about X than anyone. I have many friends involved in X. Many, many friends. We do not give enough credit to our police.

After the debate I hung around to watch Trump and his wife, the lovely Mrs. Donald Trump, slowly pass through the media center surrounded by a massive dense clot of journalists shouting questions. While I was standing on the outer edge of this clot a man named Carlos Lopez-Cantera introduced himself to me and said he was the lieutenant governor of Florida. By way of proof he gave me his official state business card. It looks legit. So you Floridians can rest assured that you do, in fact, have a lieutenant governor, and he appears to be doing a fine job of standing by in case he is ever needed.

Getting back to Trump: He passed close to me, and for the first time I got a good close look at his hairstyle. I realize that far too much has been written about this topic already, but I have to say: It is amazing. It’s not so much the color; it’s the engineering. The hairs go one way, then reverse course, then reverse course again, forming a highly complex yet remarkably sturdy structure, like a beaver dam made from hair. It was definitely the highlight of the evening.

Anyway, the Florida primary is Tuesday, so whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, don’t forget to vote. If you already voted, vote again. Because this is Florida, dammit.