Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The World Deferring to Palin

Last week at the end of the RNC I wrote that it was too soon to think clearly about the conventions but that Sarah Palin had initially stuck out in my mind the most. I think I also wrote that on some level it was exciting to see a woman in the race again. Well both impressions remain true, in a sense. Sarah Palin has provided nothing but excitement, though in a be careful what you wish for sort of way, and she continues to be what I recall most clearly about either convention, increasingly so actually, but mostly in a the hangover is getting worse instead of better sort of way.

How long she will dominate the conversation is another question. At the moment she seems to be simultaneously occupying all the empty post-conventions air space and pressing every button available. Arguably more so than Hillary ever did. My facebook page is on fire with groups like "Women Against Sarah Palin" (they say they've had 55,000 responses) and "Hillary Clinton Supporters for Sarah Palin" (29 members), not to mention the constant stream of updates, and "wall" arguments. Hillary may have borne the brunt of this year's sexism after-shocks (or feminism's "bloody aftermath" as my friend Melissa Lafsky likes to refer to it) but in a sense she has always been a very recognizable stereotype: the over-achieving plain Jane, the wronged wife, the "femi-nazi"; she fit many second-wave feminist caricatures to a tee. There would be no cookie baking recipe from Hillary, thank-you very much. When Hillary teared up this last January in New Hampshire, she was alternately lauded and abused for showing her softer side. Cut to this past week: No one can imagine Sarah Palin being raked over the coals for tearing up, can they? No one can imagine Sarah Palin not having a cookie recipe. And yet she hunts! And marathons! And governs! And campaigns with a babe in her arms. Actually, I'm not entirely sure anyone could have imagined her period prior to two weeks ago — somehow she is managing to mesh a whole slew of female stereotypes into one, and the world is predictably exploding over it. The homepage of the NYT has been chalked full of Palin as a woman/mother analysis, whilst the McCain camp is throwing around accusations of sexism as though they were balls at batting practice.

Currently, however, what I happen to find most frightening about Palin, and the greatest cause for concern in terms of her actually serving as VP, is her refusal to talk to the press. At the moment she has agreed to one interview with Charlie Gibson, but beyond that McCain's camp has indicated that she will only speak to reporters if they show "deference." [] Could there be a more loaded or chilling word choice? It is the very heart of the role of the press in a democracy not show undue deference. It's as though Palin is attempting to wield the fact she's a woman and a mother (with a complicated family) in the same way the Bush administration wielded 9/11, i.e., "In times like these people have to watch what they say and watch what they do." [] It's as though the press should also be required to open the door for for her and doff their hats. That said for the time being it seems to be working -- she's still got everyone marching to her beat with no end in sight. The irony? Even Maureen Dowd is fantasizing [] about what would have happened if Obama had picked Hillary. -- 09/10/08

The Woman Thing

So what next? Or is that even a viable question any more? The other day I mentioned [] how watching Sarah Palin made me wonder what Hillary must be thinking. Even more than Obama's victory I think Sarah Palin's rise must be a bitter pill for her to swallow. Not to mention, does anyone else think Obama might currently be second-guessing his decision not to make Hil his VP pick? I wonder. Here's the funny part, in a debate or elsewhere Hillary has the ability to squash Sarah Palin in a heartbeat; her grasp of policy and the calm manner she mastered when facing down opponents during the primaries I think would quickly show up Palin's act. Probably this is one of the reasons Obama has "dispatched" Hillary to Florida. (A side note: Does Hillary really get "dispatched"? My guess is Obama asked nicely and she said okay). But Joe Biden? Not so much. I am a long-time fan of Biden's, but I suspect he may have met his match in Palin where the upcoming VP debate is concerned (speaking of which, will this be the first time ever a VP debate will be considered Prime Time fare?).

Biden is famous for his pugnacious debate style as well as his verbal gaffes. During the primary debates he rarely took on Hillary -- actually he often made a point of siding with her -- and I think tangling with Palin may require him to rein in some of his great debating strengths, particularly in an environment that has now become so overly sensitized to sexist language of any shade. Of course all of this could be completely moot. For one, and I think I've said this before, the Palin diversion could prove the best thing for Obama, who a week ago was fighting accusations of celebrity. Two weeks from now the country may return to him as the familiar steady figure of this election season. And two, practically every newspaper in the land currently had a reporter(s) digging around in Alaska. There really is just no telling. -- 09/05/08

St. Paul: Rounding Third Toward Home

It is 5am in the morning and I am in the Minneapolis airport awaiting a Sun County flight to JFK (the flight attendant later tells me that Levi Johnston flew Sun Country from Alaska the other day, along with six secret service men). On the television I can hear the newscaster announce that the music group Heart does not want the GOP to use the song "Barracuda" as they did at the end of the convention festivities last night, and has sent them a cease and desist notice. There are a lot of familiar faces slumped in chairs here at Gate H3 as the convention exodus out of Minneapolis begins; my cab driver told me he intends to work straight through the busy day shift until it slows down sometime tomorrow. I have now been on the road for two weeks now and quite honestly the thing I find most difficult to wrap my head around is the fact that Sarah Palin was only been on the scene for half that time. I feel like Obama is a distant memory, belonging to a different political landscape.

After all the hoopla the conventions end on a conventional note. McCain's speech last night was a bit of a snooze-fest compared to Palin's. Most disappointing, I think, was McCain's inability to talk emotionally about his time in Hanoi -- is this really something he needs to read off a teleprompter? The only genuine excitement of the evening were the numerous protesters who amazingly (and admirably, I think) managed to divert camera and crowd attention more than once. Watching the speech on television I kept wondering, probably along with everyone else, how the professionals responsible for organizing these things had allowed McCain to be framed by that green screen. Afterward, I merely wondered whether, in light of all the pundits declaring this the "Sarah Palin convention," McCain was having a "be careful what you wish for" moment. That said, I do think the honeymoon will soon be over. Palin has had an introductory trial by fire, and after this amazing and unexpected diversion I imagine the public will quickly grow accustomed to her and want a return to issues, or as close as we ever manage to get to them.

Now that the conventions are over -- and at the moment they are one big blur in my mind punctuated by Palin's Wednesday night speech and multiple visits to the CNN grill -- we are finally moving into the final act of this story. Hard to believe after twenty months of talking about it the election is almost upon us; hard to imagine what could happen in the next sixty days. There are times when I wonder how this country will cope with the post-election hangover of November 5th. -- 09/05/08
The Sarah Palin Biography Video

I'm not sure I have anything to add to this except I woke up from a nap just after it had started and asked my friend if we were still watching The Colbert Report. -- 09/04/08

St. Paul: What Do You Do for an Encore?

Ahead of Sarah Palin's speech yesterday I said [] that I wouldn't be surprised if her appearance rivaled Obama's in terms of television viewership. Well, the Times has just reported [] that not only did Palin's speech trump Joe Biden's by 13 million viewers, she was only 1 million shy of Obama's record of 38.4 million. So it wasn't just the Twin City traffic! [] This country is most definitely hooked on a reality show called The Presidential Election. I sort of suspect that after another two weeks of Palin the public will (possibly gratefully) return to Obama, but who knows, the Alaskan governor may turn out to be one of those "special guests" who gets her own hit spin-off series. -- 09/04/08

St. Paul: We Are Our Own Big Brother

The other day [] my colleague Tom Hodges noted how "deeply the youth of this country has been inured to extreme homeland security measures." It's an interesting point and caught my attention particularly in light of all the security I've been navigating these last two weeks (not to mention daily life in NYC). Of course there are two sides to this coin. To wit: Just now I twittered for FishbowlNY[] that the "woman who just served us a sandwich said that she's happy to see a woman like Palin running for office and not some feminazi type." Not two minutes later a friend of mine emailed to find out where I was eating. Yesterday someone forwarded me pictures of Bristol Palin drinking with friends and kissing other girls -- the usual facebook fare and the sort of thing I imagine will become more common as this generation enters the workforce -- presumably posted online by either Bristol or her friends. Speaking of facebook, I have a number of "friends" on it who are either media contacts or people I've otherwise lost touch with, many who have emailed this week (likely after seeing some of my updates) curious to hear what the conventions are like.

My point is, the homeland security measures we appear to have grown so used to perhaps feel less constricting in a day and age when we voluntarily give up so much information about ourselves. It is also a measure of how quickly I've become accustomed to needing credentials to do just about anything worthwhile that the other day when I left a restaurant after ordering to-go sushi I actually wondered to myself whether I possessed the proper credentials to reenter it in order to pick the food up. What's the old saying? A body can get used to anything. -- 09/04/08

St. Paul: The Belly of the Barracuda

The Palin speech: where to begin? I know I keep mentioning this, but watching things live is such a difference experience than seeing it on TV, though, last night had the reverse effect on me than the one I experienced at INVESCO. I have yet to see the television coverage but I can't imagine it could have conveyed the belly of the whale (or perhaps barracuda) feeling of the inside of the Xcel center during Guiliani and Palin; it was a bit like a cross between a pentecostal church service and a college football game. All that cheering. (Afterward I ran into Time's Karen Tumulty who passed on a friend's impression that the GOP had mastered this game long ago.) I found the "drill baby drill" chant the most alarming -- it was followed by this eerie feeling that i was actually watching Tina Fey in a SNL opener. And it was hard not to wonder whether all that derisive "community organizer" talk was actually racially coded language. As for Giuliani, the less said the better. I will however note that I think this is the first time he has used a noun, a verb, and 9/11 effectively and just add to that Anil Dash's Twitter last night: "I hate to be one of those people tweeting about politics, but you can't stand in front of the NYC skyline and denigrate liberals. You chump."

I think it's hard to argue that Palin didn't knock it out of the park. My strongest sense watching her was that this was a woman who had stepped up to the tremendous role she had been asked to fill (does history make great leaders, or do great leaders make history, etc.) and then exceeded it. And regardless what side your ideology may lie on that last shot of her on the stage holding her infant was especially striking - it must be the first time a woman politician has not only been allowed to brandish motherhood so blunty but lauded for it. It's not something that should be overlooked. Of course the other side of that coin is what an amazing thing it is to watch this upstart governor from Alaska cash-in on Hillary's legwork of the last 18 months. What a funny world we live in. I don't think there is any way Sarah Palin could have been tapped for VP let alone made it past that first day of revelations if the country hadn't just finished an 18 month course in the vagaries of modern-day feminism. I couldn't help but wonder what Hillary was thinking as she watched Palin's speech.

So far most of the day-after quarterbacking has focused on Palin's attack on the "media elite." I'm well aware, as I assume are most, that this is a tried and true GOP tactic -- perhaps a tad more surprising in this case because of John McCain's longstanding good relations with the media. But I couldn't help thinking that in was an unwise decision on Palin's part considering how un-vetted she is; a bit like dangling red meat in front of a hungry tiger. Regardless, however many more Palin shoes will drop between now and November (and I heard that some of the press currently digging around in Alaska have described what's coming as comparable to an explosion in a Payless store), one thing's for sure, last night's speech will keep her going for the foreseeable future. -- 09/04/08

St. Paul: New Political Psychographic

I'm now back at the (packed) CNN Grill and Sarah Palin takes the stage in two hours or so. I will say that when you have the right credentials things work like clockwork here, unlike Denver where things worked sort of well for everyone. I have no idea how Palin's speech is going to go tonight -- it is amazing to realize that she only entered the national consciousness six days ago -- but I feel like in terms of attention her appearance could rival Obama's in terms of television viewership. Palin has tapped in to the People magazine-reading America, and that's a large and widespread group. -- 09/03/08
St. Paul: Next Stop Wonderland

We just caught the last bus to St. Paul. It's a GOP shuttle that loads outside the Hyatt and it's full of delegates. Sarah Palin is speaking tonight and my counterpart Tom Hodges has generously lent me his credentials, or else I would have opted for the couch about ten blocks ago. A slim woman in black patten heels and a pencil skirt just walked by carrying a leather bag with the GOP logo stitched into it. She's a delegate from Kentucky. The couple beside me are both wearing multiple McCain/Palin pins, and more than one person has given my open laptop a sideways glance.

The traffic between here and our Minneapolis accommodations was worthy of New York City. It took us 30 minutes to go 12 blocks. Our cab driver was also NYC-worthy and told us that the police had rented all the vans from the rental car companies and were constantly driving SWAT teams around the city. He also said the GOP buses (presumably the kind I'm currently in) have taken to parking themselves 20 in a row, forcing city buses to find a different route. He described Egyptian traffic to us: "donkeys cross the freeways!" and then, as we drove past a taxi stand, said many of his counterparts had opted out of the evening shift. Five blocks away from the Hyatt, feeling car sick, we jumped out and ran. Part of the problem is that the bridge that collapsed last year has never been rebuilt (tangling up commuter traffic) and the light rail doesn't yet run between the two cities. No one seems to be quite clear on what exactly about Minneapolis-St. Paul recommended itself to the GOP. -- 09/03/08

The Twitter

** This article originally appeared on 9/03/2008

I mentioned [] last week how Twitter was one of the ways people were keeping up at the DNC and in the time since (actually only seven days in the real world, but a lifetime in my world) it has really exploded. The phrase I hear most often around my current digs is "you should twitter that" (i.e., I just said "the best thing that could happen to Obama right now is two weeks of no Obama,"..."you should twitter that!") I can't tell you how many media types have told me that they are doing their best work here at the convention on Twitter. It may sound silly to those who grew up with more traditional coverage and filing schedules, but more and more these last two weeks I am keeping up not only with the local going ons but with breaking news via Twitter feeds and their Facebook pick-up.

Both of my roomies Rachel Sklar and Ana Marie Cox happen to have sharp and funny feeds, and my FishbowlDC colleague Patrick Gavin is easily tweeting some of the most comprehensive coverage out there. Here's some examples to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:
FishbowlDC []

You've gotta admit: Not having Russert around for the first big time Palin interview is a big loss during this election cycle #rnc08 about 3 hours ago from web

The obesity epidemic, explained: at mall of america. "Can I get a smoothie?" "Would you like whip cream with that or a cookie?" #rnc08 about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Conventions are like college: they're both one day/year too long about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Was that kevin madden in a brand new hugo boss suit tonight?!? #rnc08 about 13 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Robert earl keen at magnum! #rnc08 about 14 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Santorum hates chris matthews #rnc08 about 14 hours ago from TwitterBerry

You must check out chris matthews hair right now - 10:30 pm. Its so crazy and wild. He looks like an insane person #rnc08 about 15 hours ago from TwitterBerry

R/t @ricksanchez "as a group twitter foks are smartest, fairest group around." #rnc08 about 16 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Is that karl rove teed up to do politico's thursday panel? #rnc08 about 17 hours ago

What journalist said "I went to the #rnc08 and all I got was a hickey?" about 18 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Classic: Jon Stewart flew first class to #rnc08, on same flight where david brooks and sam donaldson flew coach (h/t The Hill) about 18 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Sign of the times: bush's video speech to #rnc08 takes place before the networks even start coverage about 18 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Hockey, schmockey: I can't wait for 18 million cracks in the "Curling Mom" glass ceiling. Sweep!

Rachel Sklar []

Remember when the biggest news about VPs was that Obama was going to announce his by text message? We were so innocent then.

Also, according to Amy Holmes, Sarah Palin not having kicked her 17-year-old daughter out of the house counts too. The bar, it lowers. about 2 hours ago from web

Before Sarah Palin, when was "breath of fresh air" listed as a criteria for VP candidate? Sheesh. about 2 hours ago from web

Glyn just now: "See how skinny that girl is? That's because she hasn't been at the CNN Grill every day!" about 2 hours ago from mobile web

Sign in Minneapolis coffee shop: "In the days when you were hopelessly poor I just liked you more." about 2 hours ago from mobile web's "[I]f National Enquirer reporters start trooping around Alaska, we'd be very concerned." Guess what? They're there. about 3 hours ago from web

The last sentence of this incredibly thorough timeline of the Palin pregnancies (mom and Brist) is interesting.... about 3 hours ago from web

Ana Marie Cox []

The wisdom that comes from the TV today continues to astound me. Just now, David Gergen: "We all know travel is important." MY MIND IS BLOWN about 2 hours ago from twitterrific

Most meta thing ever: at least this week. Also, I AM NOT TALL. But I understand how someone would assume so. about 4 hours ago from twitterrific

Daily Show let us go; held long enough to catch up w/old pal on the show. 1st q to me: "and who do you work for again, now? What do you do?" about 18 hours ago from twitterrific

Daily Show site is on lockdown. Not kidding. Apparently a protest on outside. But I'm sure they're big fans! about 19 hours ago from twitterrific

In line for the Daily Show! Leg tingling! Have been told, however, to keep "creepy" comments to myself. about 21 hours ago from twitterrific

Last night, Lindsey Graham told us that Sarah Palin "seems like a nice lady." Still lobbying for Lieberman, clearly! about 23 hours ago from twitterrific

Live shots from the CNN Grill @ #RNC08 feature stars of the Girly Morning Show in the background. We make it look like people are working! 12:10 PM September 02, 2008 from web

McCain's gun-slinging approach to VP pick inspires a thought: "Step AWAY form the White House, sir! PUT DOWN the White House." #RNC08 11:52 AM September 02, 2008
-- 09/03/08

My Dad, John McCain

So many times during this election season I have found myself remarking that it feels as though we are living the Onion's headlines. Between the "terrorist fist jab" and the "Obama baby mama" and now Sarah Palin you just can't make this stuff up (to wit: on the television right now Soledad O'Brien just said the Palin family greeted John McCain at the airport accompanied by "the young man who is the father of Bristol's baby." Now she's talking about the fact Sarah Palin didn't have a passport until recently).

Last night I stopped by Meghan McCain's book party for her children's book "My Dad, John McCain." Truly. The party was being held at the new W hotel at the Foshay (according to my friend Rex Sorgatz it is the most expensive place in the city). Meghan hadn't yet arrived when we got there at 11pm but her grandmother Roberta was, along with a lot of middle-aged men in dark suits and women in black patten heels. Per the book: "There are a few things you need to know about my dad, and one of them is that he would make a great president. But to know what makes him great, you have to hear his story first." On our way out we stopped by the party next door, which was being hosted by a pharmaceutical company. -- 09/03/08

St. Paul: Everything Else Is Palin in Comparison

Full disclosure: I was a big fan of Hillary, more so as the primary season
Progressed. When it became was clear it was going to be an Obama ticket I
actually wondered if I'd be able to maintain the same level of interest in
the election once there no longer was a woman in the race. That's how
adjusted I had become to seeing a woman on her way to the highest office.
Well, fear not! Sarah Palin has picked up the baton where Hillary dropped
it, though perhaps not exactly in the way 18 million people had previously

Most of the chatter here today is about Palin. The RNC and its scheduled
list of events have taken a dim backseat to the Alaskan governor and the
question: What will happen next? I'm back in the CNN Grill (St. Paul
version...the milkshakes are just as good) and the subject of Palin has now
trumped complaints of confused taxi drivers and excessive security. It's the
number-one topic on the lips of guests trekking in and out for TV
appearances‹followed by the inevitable musings on whether the coverage is
hypocritical: What if Joe Biden's unmarried daughter Ashley had disclosed a
pregnancy? What if Bristol Palin were black? If media criticism of Palin is
sexist (as McCain suggests) does that mean any criticism of Obama is racist?

Meanwhile, the MSM is beginning to focus on whether the McCain camp actually
vetted Palin before choosing her, and the National Enquirer has
apparently dispatched its "Edwards team" to Alaska. I'm not entirely
convinced Palin is going to make it to November‹another disclosure before
the week is out and she might be done for. Then again, who knows? Says
Radaronline's Alex Balk: "Did you ever think you'd live long enough to see a
campaign where, 'My teenage daughter can't have been the mother of my childÅ 
because she's pregnant herself' is considered an effective strategy for
rebutting uncomfortable rumors? This is some crazy-ass Peyton Place shit
we've got going on here." Also, it makes Joe Biden look like the safest VP
choice east of the Mississippi. (Or is it west? This whole Twin Cities thing
confuses.) Perhaps the time to raise a cheer for Washington insiders‹we've
finally got our hands on an actual Washington outsider and it's total chaos.

The overall sense is that we are in uncharted territory here, at least as
far as presidential elections are concerned. McCain may have been the one to
throw the Paris Hilton/Britney Spears references into this race in the hopes
of making Obama seem like a lightweight, but the true irony is that if
McCain and Palin are able to ride this bombshell out it will in large part
be to due to how accustomed we've become to this sort of salacious storyline
as a result of the antics of Britney and Jamie Lynn et al. That said,
one wonders if this story won't actually engage an entirely new section of
the voting population. My colleague Tom Hodges says Palin's nomination means
two things: One, that 9/11 is officially over if we're ready to hand the
reins to a newbie governor from Alaska, and two, if this election is
actually some sort of reality show, Palin is the dark horse winner. -- 09/02/08

St. Paul: Right Here, Right Now, Sort Of

You might think it would be too sweeping a statement for me to tell you that
at the Sammy Hagar RNC event Sunday night all the men were dressed in khakis
and button downs and all the women had blow-outs and black patten shows.
And yet, that's exactly what it was. Despite how much I hate to subscribe
to middle-America stereotypes. it's not the first time I've walked into a
scene here that felt like a caricature of what an East Coaster assumes
non-Wall Street Republicans are like. That said, they definitely know how to
enjoy a Sammy Hagar show.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul convention could not be in starker contrast to
Denver. First and foremost there's the security. It's everywhere and it
feels like the perimeter of it shifts every day. I think I may have passed
through more Secret Service on my way in to the Shorenstein brunch on Sunday
than I did to get into INVESCO field last Thursday and there is no one
; McCain, Palin, Bush, and Cheney are all dealing with Gustav, so
basically the only people here are the security and media (I only see the
delegates at the hotels for some reason). The Xcel convention center in St.
Paul is entirely fenced off, as one would expect, but because it is situated
more centrally to the downtown of the city the street shutdowns cause
havoc with travelers, a problem that would be somewhat mitigated if
either the cab drivers or the police manning the barricades had any
understanding of what had been blocked off. But they don't, meaning it's
not unusual to find journos wandering the fences looking for a way in. All
this just adds to the air of exclusivity that is prevalent here in St.

The second problem is the whole twin cities thing. Back in Denver I
mentioned that most of conversations revolved around where the parties were
and how to get your hands on credentials. Here in Minneapolis most of the
conversations are about how inconvenient and expensive (we're talking
$30 to $40 cab rides) it is to be running the convention simultaneously in
twocities, and how hard it is to find a security entrance, and then, of course, Sarah Palin. -- 09/02/08

St. Paul: Stranger Than Fiction

It is mind-boggling that New Orleans is being hit by another hurricane almost three years to the day it was battered by Katrina. Almost as amazing is the fact that this is coinciding with the RNC. This entire election season continues along a storyline that would be completely unbelievable if it weren't real.

It's not entirely clear how the RNC is going to handle this. The GOP is desperate not to make the same mistakes it did in 2005; neither Bush nor Cheney will appear (possibly the one good result of Gustav as far as McCain is concerned) and all of today's nonessential convention events have been canceled. There is no word on what the plan will be for tomorrow, emphasizing the idea that McCain is making quick decisions on his feet without much concern for how it may be executed (things are in a bit of a disarray here in St. Paul, and that's after years of planning). Perhaps, as Ana Marie Cox points out, this is a preview of what a McCain presidency will look like. I, for one, wouldn't be surprised if McCain decides to accept his nomination, sleeves rolled-up, from some FEMA site in Louisiana One thing's for sure, the RNC has taken a back seat to Gustav and now, perhaps Palin's teenage daughter's pregnancy—probably not the Britney Spears family comparison McCain was looking for.

Whether Gustav will give McCain an opportunity to distance himself from Bush, or prove to be a reminder of what I consider to be the most shameful incident of the Bush's presidency, remains to be seen, along with just about everything else to do with this election. Everyone here in Minneapolis seems to be taking things on an hourly basis—I keep getting email updates from panels notifying me that the subject under discussion has changed. It is truly indecision '08 here: There are rumors of cheap hotel rooms, half the parties were canceled last night, and half went on as planned. Will people stay, will they go? The RNC at the moment feels a bit like a huge wedding that the bride and groom have walked out on: Everything is already paid for and everyone is already here, so why let it go to waste? -- 09/01/08
On the Ever-Shrinking Road

We just drove into Blue Earth, Minnesota for gas and Patrick said "it's nice to be back in civilization," which should give you an idea of what the country is like between here and Denver (or you could watch the short video I made below). It's empty.

I've driven the country a number of times but never as the only girl in the car (I'm traveling with two guys who were also covering the convention). It proved to be an illuminating experience. Who knew boys watched so much porn or that they were able to talk about it as though it were as common as football? Or that, according to them, women have expectations about how much their engagements rings should cost. Or that "waiting" whether it be to propose or have sex is something men consider? Just some of the things I've picked up these last two days. I should perhaps qualify by saying the porn conversation concluded with the agreement (entirely unprompted by me) that too much porn was not healthy: "it's not that healthy to separate yourself so far from reality." Boys are fascinating.

Anyway, I recall after the 2004 election someone broke down the voting trends beyond the red-state/blue-state divide to show that it was less a state-by-state rift than a rural and urban one, meaning that most cities in the country had voted blue while the rural areas had gone red. To wit, it wasn't any more difficult in Denver to envision a President Obama than it is in New York; Obama is an easy and logical fit. But half-way through Wyoming and into South Dakota the great leap an Obama presidency would represent to many parts of this country was very apparent—maybe because these are spaces that looked as if they haven't been touched since the turn of the last century.

Yesterday afternoon we covered Wyoming, which happens to be the first state that accorded women the vote (in 1869!) partially because the powers that be there hoped to attract more women settlers from the east. Today we crossed South Dakota, my favorite state and not just because of a childhood fascination with Laura Ingalls, or more recently Deadwood. The state, currently the focus of the Roe v. Wade debate, is almost entirely empty and not only contains Mount Rushmore, but the Black Hills, the Badlands, and a whole lot of prairie. It takes almost no imagination to envision it as it was a hundred years ago. Part way through we stopped at Wall Drug; it's a must-see primarily because by the time you get there the kitschy road signs that line I-90 are so compelling ("Coffee 5 cents, free for Vietnam Vets!") that it's impossible not to. We actually started the day at Mount Rushmore and met a man who had photographed the carving of it back in the 1930s. My fellow traveler Patrick Gavin was still wearing his DNC press pass and upon seeing it the elderly gentleman wanted to know how the convention had been, quickly pulling from his shirt pocket (maybe as much to reassure us as anything) a collection of wallet-sized photos of his grandson with Tom Daschle before saying: "We messed up the country pretty bad for you young folk, I apologize."

How people are surviving out here with gas prices being what they are is a mystery. Though perhaps what is most amazing is how technology has managed to contract even the vastest spaces. Not only were we driving with a GPS (our instructions after we hit I-90 were to drive 513 miles and turn left) making unexpected adventure on the open road nearly nonexistent, I was twittering along the way. At one point I twittered the address of the pub we were having dinner at in Custer, South Dakota. Not ten minutes later the barman told me I had a phone call. It is quite literally a small world. -- 08/31/08

The Obama Speech and Aftermath

After rumors of six-mile line-ups and capacity press buses I managed to make it to INVESCO without much hassle. A press pass and a bike path that took us under the closed freeway, past groups of people looking for last-minute tickets, and voila!, inside INVESCO.

As often happens, things in real life feel so much smaller than they appear on the television. I watched the first half of Obama's speech from the press box, which was also lined with television sets, and while the stadium was packed and definitely electrified in real life, it didn't have the epic feel that the televised version did. I'm not sure yet whether this worked to Obama's advantage.

As I write this I've been on the road for the better part of two days and because one of the guys I'm traveling with hasn't taken off his press pass people keep asking us about the convention and the speech. Truth be told, even at this early date, I remember very few details from the speech itself beyond the crowd and the fireworks. I have to assume people who were watching television got a better sense of its details, but still, I think the campaign was definitely running the risk of having the show upstaging the message. I mean, those fireworks were spectacular (they also scared me half to death—large crowds and unexpected booms do not a calm New Yorker make). It was clearly not Obama's best speech, but I assume that has more to do with the fact he was playing to a wider audience and had made a decision to tone down the rhetoric and focus on details. That said, I'm glad I went.

Afterward, the logistics of getting out of the stadium and back to downtown Denver (or the exclusive Vanity Fair/Google party) proved not easy. The driver of shuttle bus I jumped on didn't seem clear on where she was supposed to be going until we got there. Later Rachel Sklar and I flagged down a taxi-van and, after rescuing New Yorker scribes Hendrick Hertzberg and Ryan Lizza from shuttle bus obscurity, proceeded to the Google/Vanity Fair party, which for reasons unexplained was being held in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of the city (or at least not in walking distance).

All you really need to know about the party is that by the end of the convention week it had become almost as notorious as the Pepsi Center for its strict access rules. Rumor has it 15,000 people RSVP'd but only 1,500 invites were sent out. By invite I actually mean emails that confirmed your invite and informed you that you were required to show up at the Ritz in Denver during certain hours, with ID in hand, to pick the printed tickets. When I finally managed to make it over to the Ritz around noon on Thursday there were 200 people in line; David Brooks was at the head of it. Needless to say (I hope) I had better things to do. Fortunately, (as these things go) it turned out there was a door list, crisis (and sleep) averted. Anyway, the party was exactly what you might expect. Plenty of bold-faces: John Kerry was exiting as I arrived, Luke Russert was at all times surrounded, Rahm Emanuel likes the dance floor (not surprisingly, I guess, since he used to be a ballet dancer), and Peter Kaplan told us he couldn't get all fourteen of the NYO correspondents in. There were bars in all the corners, one carved out of ice (not the most practical), and a sushi bar, and in a separate room a dance floor. At two a.m. on the dot people came around to collect our glasses, full or otherwise; it's a Colorado state law people apparently take seriously. And thus the DNC officially concluded. Next up, Minneapolis. According to wikipedia the name Minneapolis is derived from the Dakota word for water and the Greek word for city. -- 08/31/08

She's More Than a Woman To Me

She's More Than a Woman To Me

I'm currently in Keystone, South Dakota, at the foot of Mount Rushmore on the road between Denver and Minneapolis. It's a strangely fitting place to stop—we're at the Four Presidents Comfort Inn—between presidential conventions. I'll have more on Obama's speech later (I managed to make it into INVESCO field at the last minute) but, as I imagine was the plan, McCain's pick of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin for VP has dominated most of the conversation since yesterday morning. I haven't seen much of the coverage, having left Denver early on Friday, but two things initially struck me about the pick. First off I think it's answering all the wrong questions. If McCain is trying to match the Dem's diversity or fill the female candidate role left open by Hillary as a way to attract women voters I think he's both underestimating and minimizing what people were attracted to in Hillary. The idea that women supported Hillary merely because she was a woman and will subsequently jump ship should another female candidate be introduced, regardless of that person's political platforms or beliefs, is insulting and reeks of tokenism. Furthermore, in choosing Palin it appears that McCain has quickly managed to incorporate all the weaknesses the GOP has been attacking the Dems for, namely the experience factor, thus making it a moot point for future debates. Boring as it may have been, I think McCain might have done well to avoid the "change" theme altogether (this all but proves he's bought into it, too, doesn't it?) and stuck to the two-white-men ticket we've come to expect from the GOP; at least it would have gone a long way to guaranteeing him the voters who are truly nervous about Obama's lack of experience.

But more important—and here's where I think this gets interesting in that strange-than-fiction sort of way—at its most fundamental the VP role needs to be filled by someone people feel confident could step in to the role of President should something happen (perhaps a good time to note that McCain has met Palin only once before this week). McCain is 72 years old (his birthday was yesterday) and his age has been a huge factor in this campaign. Is there anyone who really thinks 44-year-old Palin—who may be an upcoming star in her own right but whose resume basically includes a stint as mayor prior to winning the governorship two years ago—is ready to step into the role of the most powerful person in the world?
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The strange and perhaps fitting irony of this long and strange election season would of course be if the McCain/Palin ticket did prevail and something did happen to McCain making Palin our first woman president. Crazier things have happened, many of them in the last eight years. That said, at 44 Palin would still not be our youngest president. Theodore Roosevelt who was thrust into power unexpectedly after McKinley's assassination (though arguably with a whole lot more experience behind him) was only 42 when he took office. 08/31/08
High Noon in Denver

What a difference a day makes. There still may be a full day left to this convention but with all the action moving to the adjacent INVESCO field the Pepsi Center feels like a ghost town, in no small part because all the security has also decamped. It is not yet two o'clock and there is already a 200 strong press line-up outside for the shuttle to INVESCO. Between that and the strict Google/Vanity Fair party invite instructions [] much of the chatter at the moment centers on whether the trip is worth the hassle. Across the lot the CNN Grill looks ever more appealing (if that's possible) and I wonder how many media types will forego the lines and crowds in exchange for an open bar and Michael Romano food. Democracy is not for the impatient.

Even after yesterday's spectacular convention performance no one seems quite sure how this speech is going to play. There's a lot of talk right now about the Obama campaign's choice of staging (the backdrop resembles Greek pillars) and whether Obama himself has bought into some sort of messianic image. Actually, that is what the cablers are focusing on (CNN just ran a clip from Ben Hur), the attendees I've talked to appear to be more concerned in figuring out what sort of credentials are required to attend and where one lines up and when.

Speaking of the CNN Grill, I watched most of last night's action from a (food filled) table there. The Grill is actually a brick and mortar restaurant CNN has taken over (and re-done for the convention...there are flat screen televisions in the bathrooms) -- it features an open bar and kitchen and wireless and a plug-in station. I can only imagine what the cost on an endeavor like that is, but they aim to do it again in Minneapolis -- great news to our milkshake loving selves. The Grill was heavy on bold-faces last night, all of whom quieted right down when the keynote speeches started. Clinton's perfect ten got the strongest reaction and there were more than a few wet eyes in the house during parts of Biden's address. Later on I ran into CNN head Jon Klein who had this to say about when I told him I was writing for Playboy. -- 08/28/08

Denver: Homeland Friendliness

I wrote when I first arrived here how the city seemed awfully quiet considering the chaos that was about to descend on it, and how the police presence felt minimal. Obviously this has changed dramatically since last Saturday -- it's not unusual to see swat teams riding humvees on the streets, and everyone who lives here has mentioned how the extensive street closures are playing havoc with their daily routines. And while I have no idea what Denver night-life is like under normal circumstances, I have to imagine that the streets are not usually full with party-goers past midnight on a Tuesday.

Despite all this there is still a certain deer-in-the-headlights quality to the city. I've spoken to a number of people working in the various bars and restaurants that are hosting convention parties, and they seem a little stunned at all the activity. Denver is interesting in the sense that it is an urban outpost in the middle of nowhere. I mention this by way of pointing out that it often feels like the city lacks a certain defensive quality that is so common in other urban areas, or say, an airport customs. The SWAT teams here are noticeably friendly and the security detail at the convention center was joking around yesterday with passersby. This is all very disconcerting for someone used to the post 9/11 stoneyfacedness of New York City "homeland security."

I think it also bears mentioning that everyone here is unbelievably friendly. I am not someone who subscribes to the idea that New Yorkers are rude, but to give you sense of what I mean, I walked into a Walgreens yesterday and was 'meet-and-greeted' by so many smiling employees I mistakenly thought that I had interrupted some sort of store function. Yesterday when I was filming my little tour-de-perimeter someone sporting a number of credential tags came over and asked if I was taking a picture -- I immediately prepared to have my camera confiscated, but actually he just wanted to know if I wanted him to take my picture for me. 08/28/08

And Here Comes Hillary!

The other conversation dominating this convention is credentials. As much as everyone jokes about how there is a dueling convention going on outside the Pepsi Center and that actually it's not so important to have access here, everyone, of course, wants access. But it ain't that simple. There are varying degrees of credentials, starting with the perimeter pass with allows you past security to stare at the Pepsi Center, the hall pass, which lets you in the building and the all-coveted floor pass. All these passes are transferable and most organizations have in their possession a number of each but usually only one or two actual floor passes, which means everyone from the NYT's on down is involved in constant negotiations to firm-up a coordinated credential pass-off.

I got my hands on a perimeter pass (short guided tour below) and am currently writing this from the (very generous) Houston Chronicle's press center. They are currently doing the convention roll call, which is actually fascinating. The roll call comes ahead of Bill Clinton's speech in a few hours and, notwithstanding some keynote addresses, is the only unscripted part of this whole shebang: who will stay with Hillary? So far the count is 1549.5 to 341.5. New York is up next. Truthfully (and keep in mind this is coming from a Canadian) this is all quite moving. And here comes Hillary!

Wow. Well no one here saw that coming! I leaned over to Chronicle Washington bureau chief Rick Dunham a moment ago to ask why New Mexico was "passing" to Illinois, who then "passed" to New York, and all of the sudden there was Governor Patterson leading Hillary in. That was a very nice moment, and I wonder if it will finally silence all the chatter that there is some sort of Clinton sabotage underfoot or at least silence it till after Bill's speech. Either way, believe it or not, the primary season is officially over. -- 08/27/08

Rahm Emmanuel Off the Record

I just attended an off-the-record "intimate" lunch hosted by Time magazine featuring Rahm Emmanuel (the off-the-record part was a last-minute addition I was told). I should probably remove the quotations here since, in fact, in did turn out to be a small-ish affair (a rarity here, unless you count some of the more media-centric parties). The room was heavy on heavy hitters -- at the table next to mine Joe Klein was sitting with Rick Stengel and Peggy Noonan; Mark Halperin was furiously typing away in a corner, and most of the Swampland folk were present. It's too bad nothing was on the record: Emanuel is a dynamic and straightforward speaker and had a number of interesting things to say about the election and the convention thus far. But my lips are sealed! I can however tell you the dinner rolls were especially fresh, and having crossed paths with Emanuel late last night at the one half of the Politico party (it was held at separate locations, which made for a lot of grass is always greener speculation) I imagine he must have been a bit tired.

Rahm Emanuel is a bit of a cult figure here. He's both a political operative and elected official, and everyone who's been in this game for a while has their own story about his legendary temper. He's a former ballet dancer who once served in the Israeli army and rumor has it [] Aaron Sorkin based the West Wing character of Josh Lyman on him (the dead fish story is apparently true). Also, I have yet to encounter a woman here who doesn't immediately remark on his presence, or her desire to be in it. 08/27/08
Party Chatter

As you might imagine when I tell people that I am here covering the convention for I get a variety of reactions. Some people like, say, Peggy Noonan, (easily one of the most charming people I've been fortunate enough to chat with here) perhaps remembering Playboy's political heyday (everything old is new again!...except maybe McCain), thinks it's great. Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker who I was chatting with at the Politico party seemed to conclude it was the coolest tag ever. Of course, there are always those who feel the need to make the inevitable centerfold and/or bunny joke etc. And then there's Time's Joel Stein, who had this piece of, hmm, advice I guess, for Playboy readers. Cue read for the articles remark. -- 08/27/08

All the Party Unity That's Fit to Divide

Party unity has somehow become the by-word of this convention thus far. Much of the MSM storyline since the convention coverage got rolling on Saturday has been about whether Hillary's delegates will throw their support behind Obama or stick with Clinton, and whether Hillary supporters will express their displeasure over what they consider a show of disrespect towards Clinton by voting for McCain in the general election. I happen to think the entire thing is a lot of nonsense, particularly in a primary season that has seen historic turnout, but it's one of the stories everyone has latched on to, and as such the line between whether it's the dog or tail wagging gets blurry and the story takes on its own steam.

A lot of the focus has centered on the PUMA's ("Party Unity My Ass"), these are "bitter" women the media manages to dig up who profess their undying devotion to Hillary as well as their intent to vote for McCain. I continue to think much of this story is based on an extreme fringe of Hillary supporters (combined with the press's inability to let the Clinton's go), which won't pan out on election day. However, the GOP are playing this angle to the hilt and even went so far as to throw a 'Happy Hour For Hillary' party last night (Hillary had nothing to do with it I arrived on the late side when only a handful of "nobama" sticker wearers remained but was told by a woman from Salon that upwards of a hundred people had attended. Among the people I talked to was a man in a McCain t-shirt who told me I needed "to be found" after I mentioned that I liked Hillary, and two local girls from Colorado who told me that despite the fact Hillary and Obama's platforms were almost identical they didn't feel that Obama had enough experience to be President. Afterwards they gave me directions to the Slate party locale and explained to me that local residents were pissed off because the main highway through Denver would be closed on Thursday night due to the fact it runs next INVESCO field where Obama will be giving his speech.

Hillary Clinton is the keynote speaker tonight, and has given every indication since the day she conceded the election back in June that she plans to throw her full support behind Obama. Perhaps if McCain picks Romney as his VP and Biden begins to shoot his mouth off in the usual fashion the press will allow her to do so. -- 08/26/08

DNC'08: The Year of the Future

Just before I departed for Denver I purchased a badly needed brand-new MacBook. It replaced a five-year old iBook that I'd run into the ground in recent months. The transforming experience has resulted in my frequently exclaiming "hooray the future."

Back in 2004 Ana Marie Cox was featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine [] at the height of the 2004 campaign season (the piece was titled "The Bloggers on the Bus.") But while the world four years ago may have had a small sense of how the blogosphere might affect the political season, this is truly the year of the blogger and it's a whole other ballgame in ways I don't think people could have ever imagined. I'm currently at the HuffPo luncheon (with Christie Hefner) being hosted by Charlie Rose and Arianna just said that no one has a big enough imagination to envision what 2012 will look like.

Most of the people I am here at the convention with are keeping up with activities via various Twitter feeds (on a side note, Obama has 60,000 followers on Twitter [] and is following 60,000 people. John McCain's got zero on both fronts). Patrick Gavin over at FishbowlDC [] is basically twittering the entire event directly to his blog (I happened to think the GQ party was fun, by the way). That said, The Brown Palace, where the luncheon is currently being held, has mysteriously blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and!). It makes it easier to imagine how this could be a future move to restrict the intense freedom on information flow that the internet currently provides (or, God forbid, alternative morning talk shows At last night's GQ party the doormen checked for cameras and informed us that Twittering was forbidden, something I've never heard before. I will say, however, that with some minor exceptions wireless signals have been fairly easy to come by. Hooray the future. 08/26/08

The Convention Will Be Televised, Is Anyone Here Watching?

Sometimes one of the strangest things about being in the center of the action is how little sense you have of what's actually going on. This used to happen with relative frequency in the aftermath of September 11th when friends and family who lived outside of New York would watch too much CNN and call in a panic over an elevated terror alert, or a suspicious package reportedly found on the subway. I'd rarely have any idea what they were talking about.

It's a similar story here in Denver. I often feel that the closer I get to the "action" the less awareness I have of the "story." Most of the conversations I have with other media types tend to revolve around parties, and access, and accommodation, and food, and wireless signals. No one is talking about the news we are all covering (or generating in some instances). To wit, a number of people have already emailed this morning to ask me whether I was worried about the "assassination" story. Truth be told, Tammy Haddad mentioned it in passing last night at the Slate Obamamania party -- she apparently was in the hotel when the entire thing went down and was wondering what all the police commotion was about. But beyond that, the first I heard of it was on CNN this morning. The world is never as scary as CNN makes it. -- 08/26/08

Denver: What Republicans Don't Do

Beside The Big Tent is the HuffPo Oasis, Arianna's Living Page personified. The goal of the Oasis is to offer Convention attendees a reprieve from all the DNC craziness -- there are free massages, facials, yoga classes, trays of organic vegan appetizers, and free chocolate(!). All the products the masseuses use are from the local company Pangea (a side note: the Pangea woman who gave me a 15 minutes of bliss shoulder massage yesterday says she's been reading Playboy since she was twelve) and are sustainable. When I say sustainable I mean that the Pangea gift boxes are embedded with pine tree seeds so that once you're done with the product you can plant your box and grow a Christmas tree. Quite literally the gift that keeps on giving.

Perhaps not surprisingly, considering the source, the Oasis has turned into (in the words of Jacob Weisberg, who just stopped by to tell us that the Pepsi Center was a nightmare...afterwards he did a headstand) the "media nerve center." It doesn't hurt that there's free wifi, and free food. Anyway, in the three hours I've intermittently spent here today the following people have crossed my path: Daryl Hannah, Robert Kennedy Jr., Mayhill Fowler, Eric Alterman, David Carr, the aforementioned Jacob Weisberg, Barbara Marx-Hubbard, John Koblin, David Corn, Ari Melber, and by far our personal favorite, Marlena from Days of our Lives (aka, Deidre Hall...apparently she's very politically active). Sadly, I have yet to encounter Maureen Dowd. Om Shanti, Shanti. -- 08/25/08

A Clean Well-Lighted Place, Or Something

There are no rooms in Denver. Almost literally. The hotels are completely booked within a ten-mile radius of the convention center and people who live here are renting their downtown digs for up to $2500/night. Hooray Democracy! I was lucky enough to get in on a last-minute room in the downtown locale along with Rachel Sklar and Amber Lee Ettinger (aka "Obama Girl") via some serious craigslist maneuvering, but much of the press appears to be staying outside the town limits.

Speaking of Craig Newmark, we ran into him on the way out of the HuffPo Oasis [] yesterday (he's here blogging for HuffPo we hear). Turns out Craig is staying somewhere outside of town where mid-sized prairie dogs roam the backyards. He was amazed that we'd found accommodation so close to the action. "How'd you do that?" he asked. "Uh...Craigslist," we said. True story.

A late addition to our scene is Ana Marie Cox, Wonkette herself, who, upon hearing we had some square footage to spare jumped on a plane to Denver. We have video, stay tuned. -- 08/25/08

The Two-Party Scene

Thus far (two days in) there appears to be two types of parties here at the DNC. The first is a kind of large, all encompassing extravaganza, where there's lots of free food and drinks and live (loud) music, and invitees include members of the delegation, different party affiliations, and the media. Case in point. On Saturday night the Denver host committee threw a welcoming party at an amusement park for, well it felt like just about everybody but since I needed credentials to attend probably there was some sort of list. These sorts of things are fun if you like that being caught in Times Square sort of feeling. Also, the chances of running into someone you know are fairly slim, though I did manage to depart in the company of Politico's Michael Calderone, Garance Franke-Ruta, Rachel Sklar, Keli Goff, Patrick Gavin, and Verena Von Pfetten. So perhaps like attracts like, after all.

The second type is the smaller affair, such as Salon's house party late Saturday night, where chances are you will rub shoulders with, for example, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, or Time's Joe Klein, or Salon's Walter Shapiro who is attending his 13th convention. I asked Shapiro how this one was shaping up and he said that they had progressively been getting worse since they were actually a useful function back in the 70's.

The arrival of Ed Rendell was what really sent waves through the party crowd, however. The outspoken Pennsylvania Governor, a forceful Hillary supporter during the campaign, remains one, even in the wee hours of small party scene (or in the face of the Sunday morning trio I asked him how he felt about the Biden pick and he said it was the best of the three who were in the running (Kaine and Bayh being the others), but that Hillary Clinton would have been the best, best choice, also the most logical due to how popular she had proved herself to be in the primary. In the telling Rendell repeatedly said Hillary "had not been in the cards." Why not? According to Rendell the campaign staffs hated each other. Also, did everyone else know that there is no Delaware television station? In the past (and presumably for this campaign) to place ads in Delaware Biden has always had to go through Pennsylvania TV (similar to how Corzine has to go through New York TV to reach New Jersey viewers), also the reason he may be able to bring important blue collar PA voters to the polls. -- 08/25/08

Biden Our Time

By now everyone knows that Joe Biden is Obama's pick for VP. I'm not sure how many of you were signed-up to receive the now infamous 3am text (as in, who will be there to answer the 3am phone call?), but the (we imagine) very few of you who happened to spend Friday glued to your television set will know that the pundits spent the better part of the day waiting, and waiting some more [] for their Blackberrys to buzz before CNN beat Obama to it and broke the Biden news sometime around 10pm.

I happened to be on the Jet Blue flight to Denver while much of this unfolded, and while my lovely seat mates (Jet Blue employees flying home to the Denver suburbs) evinced very little interest in the process beyond a desire to stay out of the city (and find me a cheap flight to Minneapolis), I plugged-in to the seat-back TV and was privy to a good three hours of Larry King declaring that the VP pick was imminent whilst the camera cut back and forth to the exterior of Biden's house (has a VP's house ever before been surrounded by camera crews ahead of the official nod?). And while we later heard (I was traveling with HuffPo's Rachel Sklar and author/pundit Keli Goff) that a number of Politico and HuffPo people were on a Saturday morning Continental flight along with Maureen Dowd, and Wolf Blitzer's arrival [] almost coincided with our own, our flight was half empty and noticeably lacking in convention attendees (also CNN watchers -- TBS' "Dinner and a Movie" appeared to be the channel of choice).

So Biden. Much chatter here in Denver about the logic of the pick. Most people seem to be erring on the side of "he was the best of the bunch." The press, needless to say, are thrilled to have such a character introduced into the last stages of the race. I happen to be a well-documented [] Biden fan and think all this concern over his habit of speaking his mind (read: the famous Biden gaffes) will actually prove to be a great (and authentic) foil to McCain's so-called straight-talk express, not to mention a good balance to Obama's more measured charisma. That said, after nine months of seeing the Democratic party represented by the Obama-Hillary duo, nothing else seems quite as dynamic. -- 08/25/08 Goes Mile-High

Greetings from Denver. A note of introduction to begin. I'm Glynnis MacNicol, currently of FishbowlNY and formerly of HuffPo and I'm on the ground here in Denver where I will be corresponding for A few things to keep in mind before we delve into this week of parties and politics (and judging from my Google calendar that will most likely be the order of importance). Denver is known as the "mile high city" because it's 5280 feet about sea level, meaning that adjusting to the elevation is a key issue for those of us who have landed here in the last 24 hours. So far many of the media people I've bumped into have been baffled by a) how thirsty they are and b) what cheap drunks they've become. In a week where the only unscripted action (notwithstanding Joe Biden) will be taking place off the convention floor amidst a thick schedule of social functions, the unpredictable alcohol tolerance may prove to be an interesting factor, especially in the year of the unwieldy ( political blogger.

Thus far it's been tricky to get a handle on how the city is coping with the oncoming rush of politicos and news coverage. Most of the papers, local and otherwise, have obviously been carrying the Obama/Biden/Convention story, but the city itself feels rather empty. Granted this observation is coming from a New Yorker -- leaving NYC is always a great reminder that our lifestyle is so alien to the rest of the country (though the lack of local delis has lead to the discovery that Starbucks carries egg sandwiches). Unlike New York during the RNC in 2004 -- which felt like it was under siege -- and notwithstanding the area immediately surrounding the convention center, which is fenced off and under heavy security, Denver feels relatively free of a visible police effort, though I have to assume this is an illusion. Perhaps it will all change once the big wigs officially arrive and the convention kicks off for real on Monday. Then again, maybe not. Denver is a spread out city, best handled by car or bike (neither of which I have in my possession); to give you an idea of how spread out it is, my traffic-free, 11pm cab ride from the Denver airport cost $75. Who knew one could ever long for the A train. -- 08/24/08