Sunday, August 31, 2008

Political Pachyderms

Our Twin Cities have been invaded by elephants. With the Republican National Convention taking place this week in St. Paul, local officials have pulled out all the stops to welcome the thousands of right-of-center voters that have made their way to the Midwest. Their efforts include huge American flags painted in the grass near the airport runways, welcome banners posted on street lamps and signs with catchy phrases such as "Twice as Nice." But as the official animal of the GOP, the elephant plays a special role in convention decorations. Suddenly, the world's largest land mammal is everywhere.

The Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul is covered in them. Large posters of elephants, small posters of elephants, red elephant and blue elephants all adorn the sides of the building as well as the surrounding area. The St. Paul Hotel, which is near the convention site, has placed two grass sculpture elephants in its garden. Elephants can be seen on touristy souvenirs such as mugs and T-shirts in the countless area shops that are hoping to attract convention-goers. But the award for the most impressive use of the image of an elephant goes to the Premier Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. They're hosting an art exhibit that features nothing but everyone's favorite tusked and truncated animal kingdom giant.

In a few days the Republican delegates will pack their bags and head out of town. I'm pretty sure the elephants will go too. After all, Minnesota is technically a blue state. The elephants know they're living on borrowed time.

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