Ah, fond memories: Riot gear, anarchists and the GOP

  • Article by: NICK COLEMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2008 - 9:49 PM

That was fun. Let's never do it again.

The 2008 Republican Convention wrapped up Thursday with John McCain's acceptance speech, a deluge of red, white and blue balloons, and a final spasm of protests and arrests. Thank goodness it's over: Half the businesses in St. Paul would go broke if it went any longer.

Many restaurants and shops were as empty as New Orleans, and as McCain's speech approached, office workers left early, advised to go home in case there was more trouble between the cops and the anarchist/narcissists who were making another play for TV time. It felt like Gustav was heading for St. Paul this time.

Minneapolis, as usual, got the money. St. Paul, as usual, got the public building: The Great Wall of St. Paul - the fences that turned downtown St. Paul into a corn maze. You couldn't see it from street level, but if you were flying directly over the fences, you could see the smiling face of Ronald Reagan.

I told visitors to come and see St. Paul again, sometime. When we don't look like Harry Houdini. But they already know the drill -- Minneapolis is where the fun is, St. Paul is where you go to pray, or get arrested. Or both, this week.

Then there is Tim Pawlenty, the only guy who made out worse than the restaurants.

A week ago, he was on the verge of becoming McCain's running mate. This week, the governor had to bite his tongue while McCain's people explained that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was chosen because she stood up to the power structure.

Palin described hockey moms like herself as pitbulls with lipstick. Pawlenty lacked the lipstick. And the bite.

T-Paw sang the establishment tune in his yearlong quest to be Veep. In the end, he was too much of a house pet for Maverick McCain.

Close, but no Cohiba with Rush Limbaugh. Pawlenty was left at the altar and now must turn his attention back to good old Minnesota.

Like the rest of us.

We're still here. And -- I hope this will not offend Republicans -- we're still blue.

I am only stating the fact of the matter: Minnesota has voted for the Democrat in the past eight presidential elections, and is likely to make it nine. Some of the storefronts in the St. Paul skyways this week had silent auctions, where framed photos of Republican heroes from Lincoln to Reagan to McCain were up for grabs. When I checked on the bidding, only two items had gotten bids: The photos of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

I love St. Paul.

Oh, well. We can debate the Siege of '08 for years, but it went about as well as it could. Whether we should have asked for it, and whether it was worth it, is another question.

It took a century to get over the scorn heaped on us after the 1892 Republican convention in Minneapolis. But we did, eventually, recover.

So I am confident we can do it all again, if we want.

In 2124.

ncoleman@startribune.com • 612-673-4400

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