TAMPA, Fla. – Political conventions tend to mess with one’s sense of time. For journalists on the West Coast, whose deadlines are three hours later than usual, it’s heaven.
Writing on deadline can be a stressful experience. You have only a small amount of time to push through an insightful, interesting and – above all – accurate piece about an occasionally opaque and always complex subject. But when your deadline is extended a time-zone differential, you have time to make that additional call, and to polish your copy to a high-gloss shine.
On the flip side, though, it meant that I wasn’t done with my day’s work until past midnight. Most nights, I was too weary to do much more than drop by a half-empty hotel bar for a quick drink before heading home.
But on Wednesday, I had an invitation to the “Got Your Six” party, an organization that helps military veterans rejoin civilian life. According to the release, a number of luminaries, including Arianna Huffington and Sen. John McCain, were to be in attendance.
The event was co-hosted by Lifetime Television’s “Your Life. Your Times. Your Vote.” campaign, a non-partisan push to get more women involved in the political process.
These are certainly laudable goals, and I was looking forward to rubbing elbows and chewing on appetizers with such types. But, alas, as I showed up at 1 a.m., it was not to be. The Glazer Children’s Museum, just north of downtown Tampa, was mostly empty. The food was gone. The bar, fortunately, was open.
Upon walking in, a kind woman pushed a copy of “America, You Sexy Bitch,” at me, a political travelogue co-written by comedian Michael Ian Black and Megan McCain. The daughter of the Arizona senator was there to promote her book, but had left prior to my arrival, as, apparently, had everyone else.
No matter. I was happy with my scotch, and wandered out to a balcony to take in some fresh, albeit humid, air. Shortly after, I struck up a conversation with a group of Germans – who work for unnamed Washington, D.C. think tank – who convinced me to join them across the street for another party – a Red Cross benefit.
It certainly seemed promising. Loud music boomed from under a gigantic tent, and people seemed to be milling about outside. Inside, however, it was more of the same. The tent, which could easily fit 1,000 people, had less than 100.
Ah, well. I’m here to work anyhow.