Dorchester: The good, the bad, the ugly–the end

I had planned to get up this morning and write my final Dorchester piece before driving back home–but the wi-fi access in my hotel room was just too crappy. So I packed up all my stuff and enjoyed a leisurely drive in the sunshine instead. I’m plunking out this piece from the comfort of my own homey surroundings.

I spent my lunchtime on Saturday in the Freedomworks/Oregon Catalyst/NW Republican booth with Ted Piccolo after having dodged a bullet with his compadre Russ Walker. Russ had just completed a reading of TJ’s post and was sitting in the booth visibly furious. He started to give me a ration of shit.

Given that I had barely an opportunity to read TJ’s post thoroughly (let alone look at the evidence trail or talk to TJ about the specifics of how it came together) I had to tell Russ as much. He then calmed down and I was allowed to sit in their booth and eat my sandwich while we talked shop (about blogging). The visit eventually morphed into them querying me about their perception of my socialist agenda and how wrong I am on every fiscal issue because I’m not a free-marketer. Not that they let me really answer any of their queries–I think they were anxious to tell me stuff while they had me held captive–and it was an insightful look into the prism through which they view progressives in general. But more on that later.

This visit laid the groundwork for my later post Tent Show appearance at the Freedomworks Party. I entered the hallway and was somewhat forceably put in front of a camera next to Larry George–where a most certainly unflattering photo of me was taken whilst trying to escape. By this time, the cat was out of the bag in terms of who I was: Carla from “that LoadedOrygun blog”. This made it rather difficult for me to get around to take pictures and observe without being cornered and questioned about what I thought of the Conference.

I did manage to have a lengthy chat with Ted–who was in a mood to talk. After I put my camera away, we stood in a corner and talked more about blogging and politics over a drink. After awhile, Ted insisted that we bond our tenuous friendship by having a dance (which was ironically to “Back in the USSR”) and I’ll be stunned if some more horribly unflattering photos of me awkwardly moving on their dance floor don’t make an appearance. I also made a short spin on their floor with Russ Walker–with whom I have virtually nothing politically in common, but we worked hard to find something (Russ and I found one narrow area of agreement that we took a blood oath not to reveal). I honestly think it was their way of trying to show me that they’re just regular folks.

There were a lot of them (the Republicans who figured out who I am) questioning me about if my opinions of them as a group had changed based on what I’d seen at the Conference. As a group, I’d have to say the answer to that is “no”, with one caveat.

During the Saturday table discussions about teacher accountability based on student achievement (aka standardized testing), I was surprised at the wide spectrum of articulated views on the matter. There were several people who uttered notions that would have been comfortably aired at a Multnomah County Democrats meeting. Later when individuals went to the microphones to share their views for the whole room to hear–this happened as well. Not to the same degree as at the table–and the issue was eventually voted on and unshockingly was treated to a conservative victory. But still–the views were made by some passionate true believers. I found it refreshingly like meetings I’ve attended that are mostly populated with liberals who hold such discussions.

So individually there are some rational, interesting, articulate and thoughtful Republicans at the Dorchester Conference. Its just when you get them into a group and that mentality kicks in that they lose me–and become that rabid set of crazies we all hear tell about.

Items from the “odds and ends” portion of my Dorchester blogging:

*Terry Rilling is definitely going to run against Chuck Riley next cycle in House District 29. GOP politicos think Terry needs a boost, though. They’re considering some sort of conference call training for him where he could be schooled on issues so he’ll “have depth” when answering questions for proposed constituents. Yikes.

*Republicans in the Legislature voted for the corporate kicker because it would have burned them with their constituents if they hadn’t. Despite my observed protestings of Jason Williams–I heard this repeated several times. GOP legislators know that if that issue had been referred to the ballot that Oregonians would have passed it by a mile.

*Republicans think they can hold the caucus together on the cigarette tax and the insurance raises, but its really bad in their eyes that 5 went off the reservation when it came to the sales tax proposal.

*Some delegates are frustrated that local Republicans are friends with Democratic Senators and House members. It makes it a lot harder to demonize them to the Republicans and its tougher to win the election that way.

*Teachers unions are the most evil organization around. Period.

*Democrats are generally well meaning and have good intentions. But they’re wholly own subsidaries of unions and the only thing they’re really capable of is raising taxes. And liberals have absolutely no sense of humor about themselves or anything else–and if a Republican attended a liberal or Democratic conference they’d be boo’d out of the room.

*Hillary Clinton is fat. Hillary Clinton is fat. Hillary Clinton is fat.

*Vance Day is a really great singer and so is his sister.

*A reporter told me that inquiries about the future leaders of the GOP yielded no mention of Greg Walden–even though they’re pushing him to run for Governor. Nor did they mention Vic Gilliam–who gave the address Saturday night.

*Ron Saxton was completely and totally MIA. Depending upon who you ask its because he’s a sore loser or his wife is a sore loser and wouldn’t let him make an appearance.

I do have a few pictures stored in my digital camera, but I’m kinda worn out. So I’ll post them later this week–at least the ones that turned out without people’s heads cut off. I also have more thoughts on the way I was viewed at the Conference..and the way I observed Republicans talk about Democrats and liberals..but again, too tired for now.