Saturday morning’s General Session at the ‘Defending the American Dream’ Summit

The ballroom used for last night’s dinner has been converted into what looks like a political party convention floor. Tables with signs that indicate each state’s delegation. It makes one wonder if this organization exists to lay the framework for some future ‘Prosperity Party’ or other more directly electoral evolution.

They’ve got a live feed going into Blogger’s Row, so I am able to actually write while watching each speaker. I’ve asked several folks in here if this is being filmed for C-SPAN or any other broadcast… but no one seems sure.

Once again, the music is top notch and gets the crowd fired up. An AFP board member is introduced with the theme to Jurassic Park. Creed’s “My Sacrifice” blares as Mayor Steve Lonegan from New Jersey makes his way to the stage. He exits to Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” and then Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is used to transition into yet another very slick video.

Fred Barnes, the Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, opens up his speech with the pronouncement that “the election is not over.” He continued to speak very highly of Sarah Palin. But, he cautioned, Americans must prepare for the worst. Liberal majorities in the House and Senate and a liberal Democratic President are a very real possibility.

Virginia’s Attorney General Bob McDonnell enters to the theme from the Rocky films. He delivered an energetic speech and then made his way into Bloggers Row to shake hands and work the room. Very nice of him to make the effort and it was clearly appreciated by the folks in here.

I’m still amazed by the soundtrack to this event. Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get it Started” is typical, along with songs from Ac/DC, the Star Wars soundtrack, and several late 90’s pop-rock acts.

The wi-fi network in here seems to have been pushed to its breaking point once again. An entire post that I’d written was lost when I attempted to publish it just as the network crashed.

Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal was next to speak. He’s co-authored a book called “The End of Prosperity?” which he’s currently promoting. Apparently, part of that book tour took him to California to film a taping of HBO’s “Real Time” — where he was surrounded by a panel and audience of flaming liberals.

David Koch and Tim Phillips then listened at the podium as each state’s delegation chair stood to deliver a short status report of their chapter’s current activities. This reminds me a great deal of a roll call Presidential ballot from a political party convention. Once again, it makes me wonder what the eventual evolution of this group will look like. For right now, though, it seems pretty clear that most of the speakers and attendees are supporting John McCain. I’ve met a few folks who say they are voting for Barr, but usually with the added claim that they’re in a safe state or might change their mind if the election looks really close.

This is a conservative group. The mere mention of Barney Frank and Harry Reid have caused loud booing and hissing from the audience, while Nancy Pelosi’s name generated a wave of groans. The words “Barack Obama” cause laughter and eyerolling to sweep the room.

I’m pretty sure that there are no Democrats here.

A man with a pig hat on his head (the pig’s eyes blinked) just screamed that “pork is for eating, not for spending!” I guess every event like this needs a few colorful characters.

At the dinner last night we had a man who was shouting individual freedom slogans during the dinner’s speakers. I remarked to my friend seated next to me that only a Libertarian would heckle a quasi-Libertarian event.

25 thoughts on “Saturday morning’s General Session at the ‘Defending the American Dream’ Summit

  1. Darcy Richardson

    This event doesn’t seem remotely like a “quasi-Libertarian” gathering.

    It’s sort of ironic that “Americans for Prosperity” would be hosting an event like this while the American economy is on the verge of collapse, largely as a result of the horrible economic policies of the last eight years.

    Then again, I suppose it’s sort of fitting that this event is taking place on the heels of the worst week in Wall Street history, especially since most of the event’s speakers, including the AFP’s David Koch, did everything they could to put George W. Bush in office eight years ago.

    By the way, what does any of this have to do with independent or third-party politics? It appears to be nothing more than a 2008 GOP lovefest.

    C’mon Austin, you can do better than this. Where is G.E. when we really need him?

  2. Austin Cassidy Post author

    Hi Darcy,

    G.E. is still here and welcome to post or write anything he wants. And he does, trust me.

    It is an event ENTIRELY dedicated to lower taxes, less government, and less regulation. If that’s not quasi-Libertarian then I don’t know what is.

    One of the things that drove me to sell TPW was this kind of reply. IPR is going to cover and discuss independents, third party politics, and relevant groups with leanings or ties.

    I absolutely do not care to ever get into a debate about purity or the “relevance” of something I write about. Not interested. Kill each other, call me all kinds of names, whatever.

    AFP is founded by a former Libertarian VP candidate. The event has a huge number of libertarians and libertarian Republicans attending it.

    It’s relevant because I say it is. Readers can choose to read or not as they see fit.

  3. G.E.

    I agree with Austin. The event absolutely is relevant for the reasons he stated.

    I also agree with everything Darcy said, except his criticisms of Austin and the post. Don’t shoot the messenger, Darcy!

  4. Ross Levin

    Thanks for explaining that, Austin. From what I was reading, it seemed like a bunch of neo-cons getting together and patting themselves on the back. Maybe, Austin, you could try to explain the connections a bit better in the posts, or emphasize them a bit? I’m not trying to unjustly criticize you, but I just didn’t get a clear idea of the libertarian(/Libertarian) connections of the event when I was skimming your posts.

  5. darolew

    “…the music is top notch…”

    Creed? Bon Jovi? U2? Black Eyed Peas? I do not approve.

  6. Austin Cassidy Post author

    Well, it was exciting rally music. The RNC’s musical selections lacked a lot. Not all my personal taste, but at least it was peppy. 🙂

  7. Austin Cassidy Post author


    Sure, I may have done better explaining that. Although in my previous posts I’ve mentioned Koch quite a few times. He was Ed Clark’s running mate and the man who pumped the millions into that campaign that allowed them to buy quite a lot of television advertising.

  8. darolew

    “Is anyone talking about the War and foreign policy? Do you get any non-interventionist vibes from any of the speakers or attendees?”

    I was wondering this as well.

  9. G.E.

    My guess is no. These WSJ types are totally blind. They’re the type who criticize $6 million for a Woodstock museum but support a mutli-trillion-dollar bailout, and a $6-billion a day war.

    The socialists had it right when they said war is about profits. But that ain’t capitalism.

  10. wesbenedict

    I attended AFP’s Summit July 18-19 in Austin, Texas (my favorite city and state). Several Libertarian Party members did, as did Bob Barr as a guest speaker. Plenty of Ron Paul supporters as well. Texas has one of the most active AFP state affiliates (similar to the Libertarian Party–Texas is way more active than most states even when population size is factored in).

    While there’s plenty of libertarian participation, the overall political make-up is like what is described above, regular Republicans and libertarian-leaning Republicans plus some independents and Libertarians.

    Most participants are for low taxes, but plenty support the war, and a strong majority are anti-choice on abortion.

    While AFP clearly advocates free markets, I question there effectiveness because in the end, they mostly complain about Democrats (if they complained about Republicans much, they’d lose their funding) and pretty much the Republican Party can take them for granted, though a small amount will vote Libertarian. They do provide some educational value.

    I know most of the AFP staff in Texas fairly well and have worked with them on some projects. But again, when push comes to shove, Republicans can take them for granted.

  11. wesbenedict

    One concrete example of the problem in Texas. Peggy Venable is the Texas Director. She’s super nice and invites me and Libertarian members in general to participate and she has been a guest speaker at many Libertarian Party conventions. But about a year ago, she was quoted in the paper as not being opposed to an expansion of the Austin Community College taxing district. Big Business in Texas likes taxpayer funded community colleges because they in effect subsidize training in areas that some big businesses specialize in. AFP gets some funding from big business, so AFP leaders probably feel obligated to support government community college expansion. I believe Peggy Venable wishes she could support more libertarian principles, but the funding of her organization is at stake.

  12. G.E.

    a strong majority are anti-choice on abortion.


    While AFP clearly advocates free markets, … but plenty support the war


  13. Steve

    I’m curious to know the third party angle as well. I’m not questioning your judgment in covering it but I am interested in the mood of the attendees. You mentioned in an earlier post that a significant number were card-carrying Libertarians. How is this Libertarian crowd interacting with the neo-con lineup of speakers. And what is Koch’s thought of them, since he went neo-con several years ago and I’m not aware of any active connection he has with Libertarians.

    Wes Benedict’s insight on the Texas group was interesting, how does it play out in the national organization?

  14. G.E.

    Koch and criminal band fund tReason and Stato, which are ostensibly “libertarian.” tReason is neck deep up Barr’s ass.

  15. G.E.

    Red – Better question: Why are they “anti-choice”? It can’t be out of respect for human life, like you and I are, when they are willing to see an infinite number of people die in the defense of Israel.

  16. chinese_conservative

    The initials AFP are confusing because at first I thought it was the America First Party.

  17. Austin Cassidy Post author

    I think AFP had more members at this convention than the America First Party has ever or will ever have.

  18. joeydauben

    Austin, it was good meeting you at the AFP Summit; I’ve got a photo of Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell and you in the Blogger’s Row room; I’ll e-mail it to you as soon as I get back to my office tomorrow morning.

    I wanted to stress that I believe in the mission, the organization and the leadership of the Americans For Prosperity, especially that of the Texas chapter under Peggy Venable. There’s simply no other “lobbying” organization for taxpayers than AFP in my view.

    However, allow me to also say that – since I was there this year and last year – it was a bit demoralizing being in the Sea of Socialism and being among a smattering of true free market fans.

    David Koch is someone I look up to not because of his support for GOP candidates, but due to the fact that he’s simply living the American dream and then putting his billions where his views are into the various organizations listed above.

    No, it’s not a pure “Libertarian Party” outlet, but it’s also non-partisan so I’m fairly certain that if LPers were to become active in the chapters – especially in Texas under Venable – then you would see a lobbying force that is/was/will be very powerful.

    I had fun, but at the same time I feel sorry for our country right now. It’s simply inexcusable to bailout Wall Street and then play to people’s fears of, “what if Obama is elected?”

    I’m still very disappointed that the Libertarian Party, nor its apparatus outside of say, Bureaucrash, made a presence there.

    Oh well.

  19. paulie cannoli

    The socialists had it right when they said war is about profits. But that ain’t capitalism.

    It’s capitalism, but not free market. Corporatism, I guess.

  20. G.E.

    It’s capitalism, but not free market. Corporatism, I guess.

    True. Marx coined the term. We abuse it.

    Reactionary opposition to female empowerment.


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