I previewed the Western Conservative Summit in my last post. It was a great few days in Denver. Now, most of that was because I got to see my nephews, one not quite three and the other just under a year – but I guess the conference was pretty good, too! My brother and I also drove to my aunt and uncle’s farm in western Nebraska and visited my grandparents in Scottsbluff.
Highlights for me: I had not heard Star Parker speak in public and she had to be one of the best in the lineup. She spoke with charisma, warmth and good humor and her compelling story of escaping a morally bankrupt dependency culture captured the audience’s attention. Parker has written several books including an autobiography entitled Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats: From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger.
Glenn Beck gave a lively presentation/informal history lecture – no surprise there – and nearly teared up by the end of his speech – also no surprise.
It was neat to see Geert Wilders up close – I was only a dozen yards or so fom the podium when he spoke. He speaks with a fairly thick accent but his English is good. He of course is the Dutch parliamentarian who has agitated some with his criticism of Islam and its influence on the European polity. He lives under constant armed guard due to the serious death threats he receives from Islamists (who have killed or tried to kill others who dared speak against Islam). While I’m not in line with everything Wilders said (he would prohibit the building of mosques, for example, whereas I believe our freedom of religion protects that right), he is a man of tremendous courage and was a major addition to the conference.
Dick Morris – There’s something about Dick Morris that must resonate with old souls everywhere and all those who have ever felt chastened by life. He’s obviously very excited by politics. He lives and breathes it. And he’s passionate and smart. But we also got to see for a few moments the scars and wisdom that Morris accumulated through the course of his spectacular success, fall from grace, spiritual renewal and political transformation. The former presidential advisor was optimistic for Republican chances in November. Among his prognostications for the evening: Sen. Claire McCaskill will go down in Missouri. And he joins the chorus advocating Florida Senator Marco Rubio for the Republican VP slot.
There’s more but I’ll leave it at that. The conference was attended by 1300+ people, representing solid growth again in its third year, and it was announced that it will most likely be held again at the Denver Hyatt Regency next year (where capacity is something like 1600 or 1700 attendees, which is what they’ll be shooting for). Along with the speakers of course I met a number of interesting people, including Leslie and Lee Strobel, Jeff Myers of Summit Ministries, Paul Eldridge of Colorado Christian University and representatives from groups like Young America’s Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.