When I arrive, the vacant lot that is the designated protest zone is sparsely populated, with no more than 125 protesters halfheartedly milling about, perhaps exhausted by the long trek to the designated protest zone. “This is pathetic,” says Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix reporter who has been covering the protests all week. “The cops outnumber the protesters.” This is true. There are innumerable police officers on the scene, all of whom are unfailingly polite and friendly. As the protest migrates down Whiting Street toward the convention’s entrance gates, Faraone—who has reported on the Occupy movement from approximately 30 different cities— applauds the Tampa cops. “I guess we’ll have to give the fuckin’ Nobel Peace Prize to the fuckin’ sheriff here,” he says, not unkindly. “I’ve never been called ‘sir’ by anyone, let alone a cop.”

With the protests defused, and the speeches all but over, Faraone and I head back to the Politico Hub for a drink. At 11:15 p.m., there are even fewer people there than before. I order some rye whiskey and sit down to watch Allen, Summers, VandeHei, and Politico editor in chief John Harris, still going strong after five hours. Right now, they are making fun of Clint Eastwood’s apparently rambling speech. “It was downright weird,” says VandeHei. “I thought it was like having an elderly uncle over to Thanksgiving dinner,” says Harris. In search of food, Faraone and I go through a door we’re not supposed to go through, but find nothing but bottled water and an abandoned makeup kit. We’re both exhausted. But you get the sense that the people on the Politico stage would keep talking all night if no one were there to stop them. “We look at how the media interprets these speeches,” says VandeHei, noting that, for at least the next 72 hours, the media will be obsessively analyzing Mitt Romney’s speech, until the DNC gets started and the show begins anew. He’s probably right. God help us all.

Update: Due to an editing error, the final paragraph was omitted when this post was initially published. The paragraph has now been added.

Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.