Last week, while the media focused almost obsessively on the DNC's spectacle in Denver, the country's most influential conservatives met quietly at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis to get to know Sarah Palin. The assembled were members of the Council for National Policy, an ultra-secretive cabal that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy.
CNP members have included Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Grover Norquist, Tim LaHaye and Paul Weyrich. At a secret 2000 meeting of the CNP, George W. Bush promised to nominate only pro-life judges; in 2004, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the group, "The destiny of the nation is on the shoulders of the conservative movement." This year, thanks to Sarah Palin's selection, the movement may have finally aligned itself behind the campaign of John McCain.
Though Dobson and Perkins reportedly attended the recent CNP meeting in Minneapolis, a full roster of guests would be nearly impossible to require. The CNP deliberately operates below the radar, going to excessive lengths to obscure its activities. According to official CNP policy, "The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs before or after a meeting." Thus the CNP's Minneapolis gathering was free of reporters. I only learned of the get-together through an online commentary by one of its attendees, top Dobson/Focus on the Family flack Tom Minnery. (Watch it here)
Minnery described the mood as CNP members watched Palin accept her selection as John McCain's Vice Presidential pick. "I was standing in the back of a ballroom filled with largely Republicans who were hoping against hope that something would put excitement back into this campaign," Minnery said. "And I have to tell you, that speech by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin -- people were on their seats applauding, cheering, yelling... That room in Minneapolis watching on the television screen was electrified. I have not seen anything like it in a long time."
Like I said yesterday, it appears the price John McCain was willing to pay to those he called "agents of intolerance" in 2000 was the choice of his running mate. How maverick-y.
And now since the "experience" meme has been undermined by his choice, the new narrative is that the McCain/Palin ticket represents "reform", which the media is only too happy to pick up and run with.
But the question must be asked: How is it reform to pander to the Religious Right?