November 30, 2006

More Conspiring

Long day today, with lots of good meetings. This morning our hearty band of policy wonks had a nice roundtable discussion with Newt Gingrich, who is nothing less than a one-man think tank himself. As usual, Gingrich generated about 3.2 good ideas per minute, but one thing he really emphasized was the need to protect America from bad guys who hate us and want to destroy us:
As Lincoln said, there is no escaping history. We must engage the most important debate of our time that goes well beyond such awful possibilities as September 11-style airliner plots. ... It's a debate about whether we are in danger of losing one or more U.S. cities, whether the world faces the possibility of a second Holocaust should Iran use nuclear or biological weapons against Israel, and whether a nuclear Iran would dominate the Persian Gulf and the world's energy supplies.

Are we or are we not in a state of extraordinary danger and part of an emerging third world war?
Next our group took advantage of the (ahem) beautiful 60-degree weather and strolled in the sunshine to the White House, where we heard interesting presentations from J.D. Foster, chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget, Bill Luti, a special assistant to the president who serves as senior director of defense policy and strategy, and Karl Zinsmeister, the president's top domestic policy adviser. (Zinsmeister used to edit a superb magazine called The American Enterprise, in which he once published an excerpt of Susie's congressional testimony in defense of stay-at-home moms.)

Next we traveled to the National Rifle Association, where NRA president-elect John Sigler reminded us that the right to keep and bear arms is an irreplaceable indicator of a free people. We also received a curated tour of the NRA's National Firearms Museum. Two of my favorite exhibits were a pistol that Andrew Jackson used in an 1813 duel in Nashville, and a rifle that came over with one of the men on the Mayflower (there's nothing I love more than Calvinists packing heat).

Then it was off to dinner this evening at the Heritage Foundation, where we heard from former attorney general Edwin Meese, who served with Ronald Reagan from 1967 in Sacramento until the end of Reagan's presidency. (I was pleased to be seated at Mr. Meese's table, but the gentlemen on each side of me were quick to point out that at the table next to us was Congressman Jim Ryun, who of course had been the first high-school student to run a sub-four-minute mile. Ryun has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated no fewer than seven times.)

Mr. Meese addressed the question, "Can We Rebuild the Reagan Coalition?" (The short answer is yes, but that's a post for another day.) He called state-based conservative think tanks "the philosophical consciences" of the states and, citing issues such as property rights, tort reform, welfare reform, and tax relief, said "the state policy institutions that are represented here are uniquely positioned to lead the conservative resurgence in this country."

Bright and early in the morning it's back to Heritage for policy workshops and some interaction with reporters from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other media outlets. I can pretty much guarantee you that on the plane ride home tomorrow I'll be dozing off.

Incidentally, be sure to read Susie's post below. The girl can flat-out blog.

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