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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I have always believed that if we just let Donald Trump speak long enough, he would finally start making sense.

In mathematics, this is called the “infinite monkey theorem.” It is a real theorem, not a joke. It is in Wikipedia and everything.

The theorem states that “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.”

If this theorem is accurate, it means that Trump will someday give a sane speech or else recite “Hamlet.” Either one can happen, and we don’t know which will happen first.

It could take a billion years or six months. It is random. Luckily for us, Trump now has come in way ahead of schedule.

But what has he said that makes sense?

Last week, Trump told Philip Rucker and Robert Costa of The Washington Post that the real problem facing the Republican Party is dullness.

You might think the real problem is insulting Hispanics, Muslims and women or people smashing each other in the face during Trump’s speeches.

But no. The problem is not just dullness but dullness at the nominating conventions. Trump said the convention in Tampa, Florida, four years ago was “the single most boring convention” he’s ever seen.

Actually, I thought Clint Eastwood debating that empty chair was a perfect metaphor for the party — an empty head debating empty furniture.

Trump, who is obsessed with polls and TV ratings, is already worried that not enough people will watch his convention should he get nominated.

The way to solve this, he believes, is hoopla. Excitement. Thrills.

This is what I mean by the infinite monkey theorem. Trump has finally said something sensible. He is admitting that he, alone, will not be enough to create interest in the convention. An extra boost of excitement will be needed.

As you may have noticed, the cable networks are following this presidential election the way heaven follows the fall of a sparrow. And so on Monday, CNN interviewed award-winning Broadway producer Ken Davenport, asking him how he would spice up the Republican convention.

Davenport, a funny guy, started out by insulting the host city. “Cleveland,” he said. “The location is a challenge right there.”

But Davenport was equal to the challenge. “Like in ‘Spider-Man,'” Davenport said. “Fly Trump in. He definitely swings (from the ceiling) throughout the convention, breathes a little fire and performs a little magic like making some superdelegates disappear.

“Try to add fun. And definitely let people bring booze to their seats. It will be the most heavily attended convention for sure.”

All of these are excellent suggestions, but would the Republican Party hierarchy — six embalmed guys smoking cigars — accept them?

The most recent time the Republican hierarchy actually got excited was watching Joey Heatherton perform at The Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City in 1982.

That Trump is worried about the energy level at the convention is a sign of how nervous he is. Giving an everyday stump speech and giving a convention acceptance speech are two different things.

Trump’s daily speeches tend to be free-form rambles. They may excite the yahoos in the room, but convention speeches have to captivate a nationwide television and Internet audience.

There is another problem: If you have heard one Trump speech, you have heard them all. But he cannot do a convention speech off the cuff. It has to be different from his everyday speeches, or it will be savaged by the media.

And the media are solidly behind Trump’s desire for an exciting convention. Over the decades, the excitement has been drained away from conventions. There are no more floor fights, because the parties want to show unity. There are no more fights over the platform, because hardly anybody cares about the platform. (In 1996, Bob Dole said he would not read his party’s platform even though he was the Republican nominee that year.)

In the past, the biggest excitement came from the roll call of states and learning who would be the nominee. But the nominee is no longer chosen at the convention. The nominee is decided in primaries and caucuses beforehand.

So by the time we get to convention night, it is like watching the Oscars already knowing the winning names in the envelopes.

In 1996, in San Diego, the Republicans put on a slick, highly programmed TV show designed to appeal to prime-time audiences. It was so boring that Ted Koppel and his “Nightline” crew packed up in the middle of the week and went home.

“This convention is more of an infomercial than a news event,” Koppel said. “Nothing surprising has happened. Nothing surprising is anticipated.”

What was surprising to me is that Koppel was expecting to be surprised. What was he hoping for, that Dole would drop out in favor of Chuck Norris? In the news business, surprises and wishful thinking should never be confused.

The trouble with Trump’s plan for excitement this year is the admission that excitement is needed. Trump should be the excitement. At the convention, Trump needs to soar. He needs to inspire. He needs to motivate and stimulate and rouse all by himself.

Or else he should just hire Neil Patrick Harris.

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
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Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media during a news conference at the construction site of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

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