Monday, October 10, 2005

Fly On The Wall Part Duece: Revenge Of The Phantom Fly Strikes Back

There are a lot of stories to cover, but all of them have lowered in intensity to a dull roar (the Harriett Miers nomination, the UN effort to grab control of the internet, the nonsense over Bill Bennett's comments, the DeLay dilemma) so I will use this morning's post to describe the second of the two Wednesday strategy sessions in Washington, DC...the one hosted by Paul Weyrich.

The meeting takes place in a basement conference room in a small office building in northeast DC, not far from the US Capitol and Union Station (well...not far for ME, but then I am use to walking 10 miles every day...that's how I keep my girlish figure). I think the room is a little smaller than the room used for the ATR meeting. There are tables set up in a U shape and chairs all around so everyone has a seat. This is necessary because this is a LUNCH meeting and there is a catered meal set out for us, banquet style.

You walk in the entrance to the building and the first thing you encounter are the tables of food where you get your lunch. The meeting is scheduled to begin at noon and people generally arrive just a few minutes before noon since most of them are racing from the ATR meeting which is a good long distance away. You arrive, you go in and grab a chair, then you come out and pile a plate full of food. This is probably the best free lunch you are ever going to get in DC (unless you are working as a document review attorney for Arnold and Porter...and even then, the quality of food at A&P is not consistently as good).

This meeting is invitation only and Weyrich's group is much stricter about keeping the size of the crowd low. Probably 70 people attend; the seats around the table are always full and there is not much room for people to stand. It is always very crowded in there...if the fire marshal ever saw this meeting he would close it down.

Paul Weyrich (or his designee to host the meeting) sits at the base of the U and calls the meeting to order. There are fewer speakers than at ATR, and they are usually somewhat more prominent. At ATR, you have a staff member from Frist's office; at the Weyrich luncheon you have a Senator. At ATR, you have a staff member from Hastert's or DeLay' office; at the Weyrich luncheon you have a senior member of the House leadership (a person who just last week became very, VERY senior...hint hint hint). The information, however, is the same.

Looking around the room, you see that the attendees are pretty much the same people who attended the ATR meeting.

So, how do I rate the two meetings? Weyrich serves better food and his regular speakers are more prominent. Norquist is a bigger meeting, has more speakers, and always has more information. Plus, since you are not stuck behind a table with your food, you can usually socialize more at the Norquist meeting.

One final note. My invitation to attend the Weyrich luncheon ended once I left my position as General Counsel for the Christian Coalition. Grover Norquist gave me a "lifetime" invitation to attend his meetings. Needless to say, I think the world of Grover and I believe that his regular strategy sessions are a vital factor behind the conservative rise to power in the 1990s.

I generally get back to DC twice every year and I always make a point of getting in by Wednesday morning so I can attend Grover's meeting.


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