10/03/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

RNC Day Two: Traveling North, A Safe Distance From The Spectacle

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

6:29 CDT
Northern Minnesota is cold and windy today, which doesn't really distinguish now from most of the rest of the year. I am twenty miles west of Grand Rapids, a tiny northern town that has run on the Blandin paper mill and the nearby taconite mines for a century now. It's the birthplace of Judy Garland (though the locals ran her family out of town) and one of the first places the Mississippi river passes through on its long meander south.

G-Rap itself is probably a little too folks for a shortened hip hop name, so I apologize for this sentence. The population is marked at 7,800 but it's probably broken 8,000 by now. Obama has a small but significant presence in yard signs. It's a far cry more peaceful than the treacherous spectacle occurring south of here. Driving up through the twin cities yesterday, you could see the GOP carnival arriving. Passing cars sported Ron Paul yard signs, plenty of jesus fish, a marines bumper sticker reading 'Oohrah,' a half-asleep driver treacherously weaving lanes in a Jaguar with a 'GOD4YOU' license plate, and a truck with a pointing Obama sign that says 'Obama wants you... to pay for an abortion.'

The right wing weirdos are out in as much force as the left wing weirdos and between the two of them St. Paul is going to be a vicious unforgiving place for the next week. The police are already lining the streets and raiding the homes of potentially violent protesters. Things look like they may well turn unpleasant.

We stopped at Culver's for a quick lunch (a table top ad read 'Life's short, eat dessert.' Adding an '-er when you' to the middle probably would have been more truthful), and then headed north away from the largest party ever canceled by a hurricane.

I did a quick check of upon returning home. It ran this Obama quote:

"It's time to turn the page on policies that provide almost 1.5 billion dollars to teach abstinence in our schools but refuses to teach basic science and basic contraception."

And then adds in a parenthetical next to 'contraception' (code word for abortion).

The convention must either be a dangerously de-sexed place or else produces gobs of GOP children every four years.

10:21 CST
The air has chilled a bit up here since I wrote four hours ago. We are seventy miles or so from Canada near the northernmost border in the continental United States. The stars are clear as diamonds on velvet up here and, as a child, September in Minnesota used to give me terrible fantasies of glaciers slowly moving south to take over the equatorial parts of the world.

Lieberman and Thompson have had their say and it was remarkable to see the bile that avowed enemies can pull up inside you. I was ready to dig my incisors into throat flesh after ten clench-fisted minutes listening to Thompson. It's not that he was as offensive as can be, it was more the casual nature with which he tossed out lines to the disgruntled conservatives in the room. "The Democrats and their friends in the Media..."; "Obama is trying to make history... by being the most liberal, least experienced candidate in history"; etc.

Apart from the fact that he's trashing my guy, some of his stuff was just patently untrue: little asides appealing to the code-word conservative crowd who believe contraception and abortion are synonymous. "We need a candidate who insists that killing the unborn or recently born babies is NOT above his pay grade." I get the whole unborn reference, but when did Obama even begin to suggest killing the recently born. We don't live in a Greek tragedy.

Watching the whole thing was actually a remarkable exercise in understanding television. The production values were class A: Music, McCain montage, lighting, and crowd shots. If I were differently inclined I might think the whole thing was dreamy. That's the power of melodrama, I guess. Throw some significant music and good photography together and some part of you will be inspired by form, nevermind the content. It's late again and I just found myself typing a whole paragraph of c's as I drifted off at the keyboard. So more will have to wait.