Friday, November 16, 2007

Live From VRWC Central

Always on the lookout for his readers, the intrepid Cheerful Iconoclast penetrated the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy last night, attending a black-tie dinner at a convention of the dreaded Federalist Society. The dinner, which celebrated this secret cabal's 25th anniversary, featured speeches from quite a few notables, including three Supreme Court Justices and President George W. Bush. It got covered by the AP and Washington Post, and undoubtedly by other outlets as well.

I loved this bit from the AP:

Inside the historic Union Station, crowd gave Bush a standing ovation complete with cheers and hollering. Supreme Court justices and members of the nation's judiciary and legal communities sipped wine and ate beef and veal medallions. Outside, a small group of protesters shouted "War criminal Bush" and "Stop waterboarding." The latter was a reference to a controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning.

This is a great example of writing that's factually accurate but utterly misleading. It makes it sound as if the convention featured a sybaritic feast worthy of an Iron Chef. In fact, if the audience "sipped" its wine, because drinking it normally would have meant tasting it. The wine was a step or two above Thunderbird, but nothing I would buy myself. The Viognier tasted like Kool-Aid, and the Cab harsh and tannic. You can get better wines at the $5.00 bin at your local grocery store (if you live in a state that allows local grocery stores to sell wine, that is). As for the veal and beef medallions, it was difficult to tell whether the minute portion size was a blessing or a curse. Yes, they were described as gourmet tidbits in the printed menu, but they might as well have been mystery meat: overcooked nuggets of meat smothered in sauce. As it was, upon returning home, the Main Squeeze and I shed our formalwear and warmed up some leftover pasta, which I assure you far surpassed the night's repast.

It was banquet food. Better than your old school lunch, but certainly in the same genre. And not enough of it!

As for President Bush's welcome, members of the Federalist Society are nothing if not polite to their guests. It is certainly true that a poll taken in that room would probably make President Bush seem more popular than a poll of, say, the American People. But you would expect him to be more popular among self-identified conservatives. It is hardly news that a group of conservative lawyers gave a sitting Republican President a warm welcome.

However, Federalist Society members can and do differ among themselves about President Bush's policies. In particular, any number of libertarian-leaning Federalist Society members are harshly critical of some aspects of the Bush administration. Of course, in order to find that out, the reporters would have had to, you know, actually talk to people, rather than listening to the President's speech and dashing from the room when he finished. If one had approached me, I would even have been happy to express my candid views. I might even have shared a bite of beef medallion, and a sip of wine.

No comments: