Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Coosaw Encampment

UPDATE: I've posted a short video featuring Gov. Sanford and Frank Luntz; in it, Sanford gets to the heart of why we were there.

My apologies for dropping out of the scene without warning; I had intended to wake at my folks’ place in NC last Friday morning and write a few blog entries, including one saying I’d be out of pocket for a bit. When I woke, Dad’s internet was on the fritz, so I just got on my merry way to a weekend to remember.

I and what seemed like about 150 other committed Conservatives were invited down to Governor Mark Sanford’s (R-SC) farm near Beaufort, SC for a weekend of wonky policy discussions, bonhomie, great food and a ton of fun. Sanford’s desire was to bring together this group, share common hardship (mostly everyone camped out in tents, more on that later), and bond as a way of gathering strength in the Conservative movement for the important work we have ahead of us.

We all met at the Sanford place (a beautiful spot I was told Sanford’s father purchased) on Friday evening for cocktails and conversation, followed by dinner and some great music provided by some friends of the Governor. Pretty much just an icebreaker, Friday evening served as a chance for people to get to know one another, something vitally important for me, as the South Carolina contingent was strong and very well connected to each other.

Saturday morning was right up my alley---about five straight hours of serious policy discussion with some incredibly interesting speakers. We had Stephen Moore (formerly of the Club for Growth, now of the Wall Street Journal), Pollster Frank Luntz, Conservative Radio Personality (and former Georgia Senate Candidate) Herman Cain, an economist who did a fascinating study on the impediments to business in West Virginia (he was preparing to do the same for SC), another economist who has done exhaustive research that leads him to believe our worsening debt situation will lead to hyper-deflation, and a diet and fitness physician who did a great job describing EXACTLY why bad carbs are bad for us.

Saturday afternoon was filled with watersports, driving range, skeet shooting, reading, napping, jogging, bike riding and all around goofing off. We met again for dinner and entertainment Saturday night, and said our goodbyes after breakfast on Sunday.

In between the formal stuff and the fun, there were countless policy/political conversations with a group of very well-informed, very committed, and very concerned Conservatives. Most interesting (and gratifying) to me was the complete scarcity of discussion about “social issues” like abortion or gay marriage. People were here for one thing, and that was to focus on the economy. Sanford’s recent fight with the Obama Administration and the SC legislature over stimulus money is really only the tip of the iceberg as far as his commitment to eradicating crushing debt. His six and a half years (after six years in Congress) has been monument to TRYING to get his state to live within its means---but he’s been only partially successful. He’s now coming to be known as the voice crying in the wilderness that debt will be the albatross around this nation’s neck, and that we must get our spending under control. In my opinion, he is articulating the clearest philosophical and programmatic alternative to Barack Obama’s vision of the role of government available in the Republican Party today. Sanford is a libertarian conservative, and as such, I find myself very much aligned with a lot of what he has to say.

Some highlights: Frank Luntz was a SCREAM…very funny, lots of ethnic Jewish humor AND searing insight into the language Conservatives MUST use to move the agenda forward. Herman Cain—an Atlanta based talk show host—was inspiring. An older African-American fellow, he used to be the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. Stephen Moore and the economist who predicted deflation got into a bit of a (very civil) policy dust-up over whether we were headed for hyper-inflation (Moore’s view) or hyper-deflation. Governor Sanford stepped up and offered that whichever way things go, both views had at their heart the insidious evil of mounting debt.

All in all, it was a great weekend…oh—about the tents. Sanford made it very clear that one’s worth as a human was tied to weather you roughed it or stayed in a hotel. I arrived in Beaufort in the late afternoon in a monsoon. I naturally alighted to the “Sleep Inn” and got myself a room. Later, I headed over to the farm for check-in etc, and the skies cleared. Thinking this an excellent opportunity to try out my only once before tested camping skills, I set up my tent and enjoyed the evening’s events completely convinced that I would tame the elements in my Eddie Bauer tent. Around 10 PM, I went to my tent and began to read a bit (the Kitten having seen to it that I have all the gear I needed, including head-mounted reading light). Around 11, I put my book down to go to sleep, and these Philistines a few tents over lit off their generator, which provided the power to light their garish Christmas lights festooning their tent and nearby tree. Because the generator was making noise, they naturally began to talk very loud. I rolled up my pillow around my ears and tried to block the noise, but to no avail. So I headed down the road ten miles to my nice quiet hotel room. The weather was pretty sketchy most of the day Saturday, so I slept there again Saturday night.

Perhaps next year I’ll make it through a night in a tent.


Doc Milnamo said...
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Doc Milnamo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JT1310 said...

I wouldn't expect a soft ole blackshoe to make it all night in a tent! Just kidding, my friend. Great read!

DeskJockey said...

Bryan - Please tell, how does one get invited to such hallowed events? Great read!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun except the sleeping part. Generators are not welcome in camp sites where I come from except when they follow EMP events. I'd have expected you to be a little more forceful in getting rid of external power...Or...Try more red wine next time.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

Uhuh-huh,huh-huh...you pitched a tent.

Smoothfur said...

It appears that you had a well rounded group of conservative minded people.

Did any of those great minds have a solution on how we can convince people in general and liberals in particular that all the "free stuff" and "give aways" that President Obama and the Dems are attempting to deliver are in point of fact, not free? And will in the long term be the cause of greater unemployment, lower revenues to the government and eventual failure of our once great nation?

Sally said...

Sounds like a GREAT weekend. Does he do this every year? Because I think it would be more fun for you next year if you brought friends. Friends named Sally.

Ghost of Halloween Past said...

sorry Sally, I believe it's a "mancampment" -- no girls allowed in the tree fort. CW, correct me if I have that wrong, may just be past events that were restricted.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Got invited as a result of some earlier interaction with the Governor on some organizational matters. I'm pretty sure the invite list was pretty tight, not sure if you could just "bring a buddy"...but if you can next year, you're invited!

The event was all male this year, but I heard quite a bit of talk about change in the wind for the future.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great weekend. Good group of speakers.

bbauer said...

Does it really take 17 permits to open a convenience store in West Virginia?

Anonymous said...

Why rough it!
When in Beaufortand in need of a good bed with high cotton sheets and a terrific pillow-may I suggest my short term rental townhouse in historic Beaufort www.vrbo.com/183456
We'd be thrilled to have you!
Loved your post

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