Value Voters’ Summit: Day 1
*Live updates by the minute.
I picked my media credentials yesterday, and spent the rest of the evenning checking out the exhibition stands.
Great stuff on display.
Interesting books and films – I got myself much of the former, and one of the latter (Demographic Winter).
I met a Tanzanian who still believes Mwalimu was the best thing for TZ since sliced bread.
And I met an American who believes Putin is right over Georgia, and that McCain / Bush are misleading the American public over that.
I did not sleep much, working the phones to sort out some pending issues in Nairobi.
I returned late this morning – 9:40am to be precise.
The venue at the Washington Hilton is as fanciful as it can be.
The spirits are high.
Over 2,000 people are in attendance from around the country and the world.
I missed the openning ceremonies and Lou Dobbs’ remarks.
A blogger friend says I did not miss much with Dobbs.
9:25-9:45am – Coach Joe Gibbs has a powerful personal story on how he came to faith and how that has shaped his worldview. The BBC Express is here too. I think he might have caught their eye. The Bible Belt is always big news here.
9:50-10:10am – Michael Steele was all glowy about McCain and Sarah Palin, aiming some blows at Obama. The crowd loves him for that. Am certain, though, Obamanistas would have something to say about that too.
10:15-10:45: The Truth Behind Capitol Hill’s Leading Ladies just began. The forum is bringing together some of the GOP’s best female voices on the Hill. The moderator, it turns out, was involved in drafting the GOP’s platform for 2008, which is being seen by some as one of the “most pro-life” in years. A Democrat strategist had something to say about that a few weeks ago. Appearing on CNN, he said the GOP cares more about life in the womb than it does about life outside of the womb. Meanwhile, the forum continues. Palin is being humanized at the moment. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). They are done. They are opposed to the Fairness Doctrine – a proposed requirement that both sides be told in a story, regardless of who owns and runs a media outlet. They believe it could be used by the left to weaken the right, particularly because of the right’s strong presence in the mainstream (talkshows) and new media. They also desire an end to state funding for Planned Parenthood, and expressed disgust that President Bush had been slow in doing that for the past seven-plus years. They also talked about their personal faith.
10:50-11:10am – Phyllis Schlafly has been a veteran of most GOP conventions and has drafted its platforms over the years. She is a staunch Reaganite. Gave a historical and philosophical overview of both the GOP and Democratic platforms and why she backs the former. She is old, but young and strong in mind. She was the first speaker to get a standing ovation – and a long one at that – today. She speaks her truth quite persuasively. Conservative American ideals would appeal to you after listening to her even if you hated those who espouse them.
11:15am-11:35am: Faith, family and freedom are major themes for conservative America. Focus on the Family’s Jim Dally is talking about family at the moment. He says he finds traction with GOP because it has aligned itself with the cause and culture of life. He says he wouldn’t have trouble aligning himself to both parties if they both backed life. He is telling the audience not to be afraid to be single-issue-driven. He says it has happened before, with much success (cites the abolitionist movement).
11:40am – 12:00pm – Don Feder of Demographic Winter has given a very moving presentation. We became friends yesterday when I met him at his exhibition stand. I will see about getting a copy of his full speech for you soonest. Newt Gingrich, loved by the GOp but loathed by Dems, comes up next.
12:00pm – 12:19pm – He has come after Don, a slight change in the programme. Began with harsh words against “elite media” for their cynicism and hostility. He is responding to the media’s handling of the “God talking-point” in the Palin interview. He is quoting liberal Democratic sources – no less iconic than JFK, FDR, etc – on God who make Palin’s remarks sound like nothing but ordinary. If you have witnessed the Christian-Muslim barazas in Kenya, then you have an idea of how he is carrying out his rebuttals. He says the left has increasingly left America’s historic tradition of faith, family and freedom and been consumed by an anti-religious secular bent. Says Palin violates every moral the left has. Tough. Articulate. Happy. Five kids. Hard-working hubby who is a union member. Goes to Church. Etc. The audience is laughing. Says she poses two enomous threats to the left: Existential / ideological (to the Dem’s feminist wing); practical politics (unsettles the game and Obama’s politics). He is a forceful speaker – not much different from Kenya’s PLO. He has you laughing, even when he is stabbing you. He is done. A standing ovation like no other. People are breaking for lunch.
2:00-2:20pm – Michael Medved is on. He says he is out to rebutt lies against the faith community in the US. These, he says, include that they: a). Hate women and they are in turn hated by women. b). Conservatives hate sex (and cannot connect with America for it). “We are welcoming life and we are having babies. We love intimacy between a husband and wife as God intended it. Context is everything here.” c). Depressed, defeated and hopelessly divided. “We don’t think it is beyond our pay grade to say abortion is wrong, much as we might debate its legality.” Medved is Jewish. Has a brother in Israel, with two sons serving in the nation’s military. Says his brother told him before he came to speak to say that Israel is the one nation in the world where the McCain ticket is generating excitement and support. Next speaker – a change in the program – is an American blogger buddy: Kevin.
2:20-2:45pm – Kevin has given a glowing intro to Holywood insider Stephen Baldwin. Believes America’s future lies in having more believers. He asks – “What are we fighting for?” Cultural terrorism. He says popular culture is being terrorized. Says it needs to be redeemed.
2:50-3:10pm – Bishop Martin Minns is on. Pokes fun at what he calls “quiet British stoicism.” He has his roots there. Has been part of the rebellion in the Anglican worldwide Communion against its morally relative wing. He is talking about the beauty he has found in the Bible, and the Imago Dei (the image of God) he considers necessary for the preservation of humanity as we know it. He asks whether Christians can be moral arbiters of the global community anymore. Radical inclusion (while maintaining fidelity to the Scriptures). Profound transformation (living, not just believing / walking the talk). Inspired service (in the steps and example of Christ). Those three, he avers, ought to be the guiding principles of a Church that recalls its roots. We need each other, and the one whose name we bear.
3:15-3:45pm – Spin Cycle: How the media is hanging conservatives out to dry. Some of the best minds in conservative media are here to argue their case and what they are seeing in “medialand.” Am most eager to hear Ramesh Ponnuru. He has spoken to an audience I have been part of, and I read and critiqued his Party of Death once. His wife is an alumnus of an institution I have attended here. I have been fascinated, if not animated, by some of their ideas. He says Palin is a threat to “cherished hopes and ambitions of liberalism.” He is your idea of this polished thinker. He is very methodical. Has an eye for the odd fact. “Be simple, factual, civil and persistent,” he says in his counsel to the audience about the other side of the media (from his own). He reminds me of John Sibi-Okumu, who would host a much-watched political talk-show on KTN ahead of the 2002 polls. When I left the country, he was doing something for then-Celtel on NTV. He is one of the Kenyans whose brilliance I can only but respect.
3:50-4:10pm – Ken Blackwell is on. He is talking about empowerment of the family and the challenge of school choice in modern-day America.
4:15-4:35: Rev. Jonathan Falwell is on. He is a son of the late Jerry Falwell, one of the biggest names in evangelical America and the religious right / moral majority. The father’s legacy is recalled differently by various people. “Reports of our (the movement’s) death have been grossly exaggerated,” he jokes. “It is not above our pay grade to figure out that life is important to God,” he says.
4:40-5:00pm – Star Parker is on. Like Blackwell, she is black. She talks about faith in plain terms. Fear God. Work diligently. Manage your money. That is her mantra. Says social justice does not mean re-distribution of wealth. Those who believe the American system is pre-disposed to be against its weak and poor will certainly have something to say about that. She says AIDS, the welfare state and abortion are America’s biggest 3 social challenges which find their basis in sexual immorality, for which she believes the taxpayer should pay no more. She gets a long standing ovation afterwards. Loud claps and cheers. The afternoon is over. Am taking a break. Am skipping some of the up coming events to sort out some stuff of my own. More later.
7:15-35pm: M. Romney says November poll will be close. Says Palin has excited GOP base much. He is now talking about America’s “goodness and strength.” A strong military, by which he believes both America’s and the world’s future can be secured. Suggests China has so advanced some capabilities that could stifle global and – he fears – American military communication capabilities. Long-term economic strength is the other one. He proceeds to rehash the GOP platform and why he backs it. Says does not doubt Obama’s patriotism, but also suggests that the latter is not ready and right to be President. He says Obama would destroy America’s culture. Gets a standing ovation. He is leaving. He is a catching a flight out of DC.
7:35-8:35pm – The Court Jesters’ Award, a long-standing tradition of the summit, begins. Sub Judice, anyone? Judges are being mocked here for decisions they have rendered 🙂
Fireproof is the highlight of the evenning afterwards, in my view.
The day has been long.