Dole Protests

A few extra images, for your entertainment this afternoon, from the "massive" protest that was supposed to greet Senator Dole when she arrived at the Conservative Leadership Conference. And no, she never actually saw them because of where they were located in reference to where she arrived.

Out front there were these three folks. They got an interview with News Channel 14. They were rather proud of that. The fellow in the middle was nervous about me taking pictures because he was afraid that I might provide them to the FBI.

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As they crammed themselves together for the TV interview, this other fellow showed up with his big sign. There were a total of these four outside the front entrance, and there were 2 bloggers and a TV camera filming them. Everyone else pretty much ignored them and walked around them.

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Meanwhile, at the rear entrance to the building were these two people. The three people on the right were from the conference, trying to talk to the protesters. I think they had a tag-team going because when one person would get tired to talking to them, they'd walk inside and another would come out to engage them.

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She was very proud of this sign. When she saw me taking pictures, she quickly grabbed this sign and asked me to take a picture of it.

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All told, there were 6 protesters. And Dole never saw one of them. The folks out front were quiet and respectful. The fellow out back really got agitated easily and started yelling a couple times. Strange people, those afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Conservative Issues

So, what was the net toll and results from the North Carolina Conservative Leadership Conference? Well, this is the second year I attended, so I can't help but make many comparisons to last year. Keep in mind, last year's conference was before the elections of 2006 and the total slaughter of Republicans.

Last year's conference was very upbeat. It was very positive. This year, if I had to sum up the conference in a word, I'd have to say "hopeless." Really. With certain obvious exceptions, the overall mood seemed to say, "Okay folks, we lost in 2006 and there's nothing looking like we're going to win anything any time soon." Heck, only one person there even mentioned actually winning in 2008, and that was a candidate for governor of NC.

To me, a conservative is one who wants less government. From that one item can extend all sorts of other parts of conservatism -- lower taxes, less regulation, more freedom, gun freedom, freedom to live, freedom to defend things like marriage. All of these ideas stem from the one concept of less government. Of the current crop left over in Washington, there are many that support one or more of those ideas, but almost none that support the basic premise of less government -- a concept that just one person at the conference mentioned (current Congressman Walter Jones).

I was very surprised at the conservative reception of Rudy Giuliani. With his strong and open positions on abortion, I didn't think he would be well-received. It appeared from what I witnessed that if you think abortion is wrong, you no longer have a party. Democrats support abortion all the time and will never compromise on that position. Now Republicans are open in their support and conservatives who oppose abortion on demand are basically being told to ignore the issue.

Gun rights were mentioned a lot during the weekend. Nearly all times, they were strongly supported -- except by Giuliani, who seemed to have a conflicting, middle-of-the-road position. But overall, few questioned the clear reading of the second amendment and the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Illegal immigration, one of the big, hot topics, that nearly always got applause, got nothing. Zero. Almost every single person at the conference talked about it. However, they all said the same thing: "We've got to do something about it!" And that's about all. No one had any ideas or solutions at all -- not even one. One commentator said that the Republican Party needed to come up with "some way" to solve the problem without "alienating" those already here (who are voting). In other words, we'll do nothing, and have no plan and no ideas.

Education was a hot topic as well. With the exception of the education forum, once again, there were no ideas. There was a whole lot of "for the children," but that's about it. At the education forum, there were clear, outlined, detailed plans about how to help educate -- then just as clear brick walls that the education establishment, via Democrats, would absolutely oppose.

A recurring theme throughout the weekend was that if Republicans and Conservatives (NOT one and the same) needed to stand for something. They needed a BIG idea for the next election -- something along the lines of Newt's "Contract With America" -- but there was absolutely nothing about what that idea might be. The only thing close was Congressman McHenry's suggestion of a $1 billion cash prize for the person who came up with a way to get rid of America's dependence on oil.

Many, many people talked about the losses in the 2006 elections. There were numerous reasons given for the losses -- none of which had changed! Many people expressed the idea that conservatives lost because people didn't trust them any more -- but then also noted that nothing has changed, people still don't trust them. People talked about the failures in Iraq (and, certainly, the good that we're doing) -- and the voter's perceptions of those failures -- which still continue today.

Many people invoked Reagan and his words. Many people spoke favorably of him and his ideas. Many said we need to focus on his ideas -- but gave no examples of how to do it. A number of people mentioned that local races had to be won first -- implying that conservatives aren't going to win anything at the national level for a very long time.

Overall, the attitude really seemed to be that we lost the last election. And conservatives haven't done anything to change -- which certainly implies to me that there's not much hope of winning anything any time soon.

Me, I'm much more hopeful than that. But I'm not sure I've got a lot of support.