The second American Compass book panel yesterday was called "The Effect of Conservative Books on the 2004 Presidential Campaign" and the moderator was Brad Miner. The panelists were Michael Barone: there to promote his book Hard America, Soft America , Linda Chavez: there to promote her new book Betrayal, John Fund from the Wall Street Journal: there to promote his new book Stealing Elections, and George Marlin, Richard Viguerie, and Dick Wirthlin: three guys who were major players in the Reagan Revolution and in old-time New York Conservative Party politics.
George Marlin was full of reminiscences about the old days of conservative book publishing, when Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative sold 3 and a half million copies, even though its publisher was some tiny outfit in Kentucky that no one's heard from since. Richard Viguirie spoke of Bill Buckley's God and Man at Yale as being the formative conservative book.
A question came up about Unfit for Command. Michael Barone said simply that "People in Old Media assume Republicans lie and that no one who is against the Democrats can be telling the truth." He had a great anecdote about media bias. He said he was talking with a major old media journalist once and he asked him how he could possibly say that journalists' work product wasn't biased when 90% of them are Democrats. The guy went on with the usual mantra about how journalists have professional standards and their views don't affect their reporting and yadda yadda yadda. So, Barone asked him, "Then if 90% of journalists were Republicans, you're saying the work product would be the same." The guy answered, "No. Then it would be biased."
John Fund's book sounds really interesting and also pretty scary. His thesis is that vote fraud is still a huge problem in American politics and will be a major issue in the upcoming election. This is for two reasons: 1) Incompetence. "We have the sloppiest system in the industrialized world." 2) Venality. This can take the form that the Democrats prefer of saying that "millions of black voters have been disenfranchised" with absolutely no concrete proof to back that up, which undermines the validity of election results in voters' minds. Or, it can be good old-fashioned ballot-stuffing, dead people voting etc. This happens mostly in predominantly black, Democratic parts of cities, so if you talk about it you're called a "racist". According to Fund, if the coming election is at all close it will be settled by litigators, not by voters. The lawsuits have already been filed. We won't just have one Florida. Every close state will be a Florida.
Linda Chavez's book is about another underreported scandal of our political system, the way labor unions take the involuntary contributions of their members and illegally use that money to fund Democratic campaigns, often not even in the home state of the workers whose money they're stealing. This story is of course completely ignored by the mainstream media. As Chavez says, "Can you imagine the scandal if Halliburton was sending employees and money out of state to help W?"
At this point all the New York/Catholic/Conservative Party guys started talking about various shcisms within Catholic politics to the point that my eyes started glazing over. The takeaway is this: If Bush doesn't bash gays enough, all of the Knights of Columbus members will take their ball and stay home and make Bush lose. Gotta love those social conservatives.
The best question from the audience was from Mark, who is pictured somewhere or other on-line wearing a "Fags for Bush" t-shirt. He said that he is a member of both SAG and AFTRA and he asked Chavez if there was any way he could get all that money that his unions stole from him and used illegally back. Chavez said that if he asked them for it they legally had to give it back. However, because the unions don't disclose things properly, it's next-to-impossible to figure out how much money they actually took.
After that, it was on to the National Review party, which was, how you say, off the hook? The place was packed shoulder to shoulder. Jonah Goldberg said it was the biggest gathering of indigenous New York conservatives in a bar in decades. It sure felt like it. Hot, sylish New York girls, many in "I only Sleep with Republicans" buttons as far as the eye can see. Everyone was there. I talked to Evan Coyne Maloney and the guys who started Protest Warrior.
Roger L. Simon was there, holding forth in this trademark Borsalino. It's the first time I met him "IRL". Fortunately or unfortunately, both of us were pretty trashed. For ideological diversity, alongside hard-core gay civil marriage proponents like Roger and me, Rick Santorum was also there and of course the infamous "Derb".
The only Cornerites I talked to at length were Kathryn Jean Lopez , who was gracious, charming and about 20-years younger than I pictured her, and Andrew Stuttaford, with whom I drank a lot and talked at length about CS Lewis.
God I had a great time.