Maiden Voyage – Part II

I knew I was bound to leave someone out of my recap.  Sure enough, as he graciously RT’d Part I of my tale today, I realized I’d forgotten the fine gentleman from Texas, Mr. @techaskew (“Mike) .  He was with the crew from @FTR__Radio Thursday evening, but I first encountered him in the #SGS11 time line earlier that day, as he was coming into town and faced with a greedy cab driver who tried the old run around on him.  Fortunately, Mike was onto the driver’s tricksies and quickly set him straight.  Another genuinely cool fella whom I enjoyed chatting with throughout the summit! (And whom I know is anxiously awaiting this installment of my recap!)

This is probably a good place to mention it — though Smart Girl Summit was, as one might expect, heavy on the estrogen, there were a number of Smart Guys in attendance, supporting both the group and the conservative cause at large.  Kudos to all of them!!

Saturday

Saturday morning came far too quickly in my view.  After I got home Friday night (around 1:30), I was still so jazzed from the day’s events, I stayed up until 3:00.  The morning session was set to begin at 9:00 a.m., and I was in zombie mode as I made my way back downtown, whining and chugging my Red Bull.  As it was, I didn’t make it until almost 9:30, but Tuesday had kindly saved me a seat, and I quickly started following along as another fine Texas gentleman, @RazShafer of American Majority, helped us learn how to be electorally effective at the local level.  Our next session was with a very nice and informative lady from the Leadership Institute whose name escapes me at the moment. She had some great tips and insights into running for office.  (I have to emphasize that all of the educational presentations really were quite good!)

Next up was a lively Q&A session with @Andrew Breitbart.  Despite the obvious Breitbart admiration among summit goers, they didn’t just serve him up softballs.  There were a couple curve balls, and maybe even a wild pitch or two.  But his responses didn’t disappoint. He didn’t bat an eye at the Shirley Sherrod question, though, come to think of it, he’s probably been asked it a thousand times in the past year.  (Folks, please – read the actual article.  And if you’re really interested in educating yourself about the situation, I also highly recommend taking a gander at the Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of the Defendants in the suit. Though it was recently denied by the Court, it does a splendid job of setting out the pertinent chronology.) 

The comment that caused the biggest overall stir was Breitbart’s (well-received) declaration that he’d not be attending CPAC next year in light of their recent decision not to include GOProud at the event.  This was the first I’d heard of the ACU’s decision and it left me feeling torn and disappointed.  Given my experience at SGS11, and the knowledge that many more of my Twitter friends would be in attendance at CPAC, I’d planned on making every effort to attend.  But I can’t agree with the ACU’s decision. I sincerely hope they’ll reconsider. 

What resonated most with me, however, were his comments about the people who are presently doing battle on the front lines of the Tea Party/Conservative movement, and how they’ve been, in many cases, abandoned by those who really should have their backs.  This tied into his observations in “Undefeated” — which was screened immediately after — regarding all the “eunuchs” in the GOP who’ve left Palin to the wolves (or, in some cases, turned their fangs on her themselves.)  This, I will have to address in a separate entry. For now, I will simply say that I’d planned on skipping the screening. I’m so very glad I didn’t, even though the post-lunch zombie stupor about got the better of me long about the middle of the film.

The afternoon wrapped up with an impressive slate of 2012 candidates:  Ann Wagner (@Ann4Congress), running for the Republican nomination in Missouri’s Second Congressional District, shared a bit about her upbringing and values, and the reasons she’s now seeking elected office.  Sarah Steelman (@Sarah_Steelman), seeking the Republican nomination in Missouri’s Senatorial race, spoke of lessons learned from her time as a State Senator, and later, State Treasurer, and brought some economic figures/reality checks to the table.  Next up came the fiery Jackie Walorski (@jackiewalorski), currently running for Indiana’s Second Congressional District, with a speech bound to wake up even the most sleep-deprived of summit goers!  She was followed by the engaging Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (@SaucedoMercer), seeking the Republican nomination in Arizona’s Seventh Congressional District, who spoke of her emigration to America in 1986, and obtaining her U.S. Citizenship in 1991, and of what being an American means to her. 

Herman Cain (@THEHermanCain) capped off the summit with an inspiring call to the Smart Girls to “be the heat” on Congress and help him accomplish the goals he has set forth.  Cain himself was moved to tears as he relayed the story of a young girl who’d lived on the streets for nearly a year after running away from foster care with her little brother to protect him from being abused, and who’d learned from her experiences that she did not want to rely on the government to solve her problems.  And he beamed with pride as he told the story of his eldest granddaughter’s somewhat dramatic entry into the world twelve years ago, explaining that she is one of the primary reasons he’s decided to seek the Presidency, in order to fight for a better future for her.  Extra kudos to Cain for graciously acknowledging his close second place finish behind Bachmann in the SGS Straw Poll: “Pleased to learn I placed 2nd in the #SGS11 poll, just behind @TeamBachmann, a wonderful lady! Thank you all!”  (*cough* @TeamBachmann *cough*)

With that, the “official” summit drew to a close.  However, since most of the attendees were remaining in town until Sunday, dinner and drinks were in order.  I happily dined with my Midwest (plus Texas & North Carolina) Contingent  (@glenasbury @mamaswati @rjhornsby @hostagehoosier @LawMom @bluedevilmsn @mwarner95). Downtown restaurants were crowded with Cubs-Cards fans, but we wandered a couple blocks up the street to Tigin’s Irish Pub.  The trek was punctuated by a Mike Pence “woot” session between some drunken baseball fans and the ebullient Mark Warner.  Thankfully, the fans peeled off, and we made our way into the pub and enjoyed a nice dinner, separate checks and all. 😉  

After a brief convenience store stop on the way back to the hotel, we waited for an elevator to take us up to the roof.  And waited.  And waited.  If only catching an elevator up were as easy as sliding an escalator down (as demonstrated by one Samson Breitbart).  I’d include Sarah’s terrible towel saga here, but she tells the story far better than I.  Suffice it to say the hotel experienced a severe towel shortage this past weekend.  Along with an apparent Housekeeping/breakfast-tray-removing staff shortage — 36 hours is a wee bit long to leave a tray outside a guest’s door.  Just sayin’.

Atop the hotel, I showed off the downtown skyline to my new friends, pointing out my office, the brewery, the courthouses.  It was warm out, but still relatively nice up on the roof, and we enjoyed the view and the company until the hotel imposed its Draconian Roof Curfew.  Then we repaired to the lobby, where @FingersMalloy, @MelanieAnn79, @irishduke2, @techaskew, @JasonBWhitman, @Stix1972 and several other new friends were holding down the fort. 

At one point, @THEHermanCain returned from dinner and graciously posed for pics with us, while @LisaMeiNorton set to work on a new campaign song for him.  Soon, we were joined by other Smart Girls – @ORLibertyGal, @Mommentator, @skigarmisch, @NicholsUSA, @Nikkibama, @TeriChristoph, @pinkelaphantpun, @becs09, @Stacy_Mott and (I believe) @KristenHawley.  It was a right fine party in that lobby! 

As if the towel shortage and elevator snailishness weren’t already enough, I soon learned that the hotel also had possessed toilets.  I excused myself to the Ladies’ room at one point, and as I stood to exit the stall, the automatic flush mechanism suddenly decided to turn the toilet into a bidet.  Perhaps this is information I shouldn’t have shared — then or now — but after recovering from the initial shock and paper-toweling off, I returned downstairs and recounted my tale of toilet woe.  @JasonBWhitman then kindly shared my “Bidets Gone Wild” story on Twitter.  Thank you, dear! Some have speculated that @demonsheep’s presence at the summit might explain a lot. I’m inclined to think perhaps they’re right.

All that said, I still spent two-and-a-half days of the most fun I’ve had in recent times at that hotel this past weekend. And I’m neither a Smith nor an Underwood!! While I don’t know that I’d recommend The Crowne Plaza for future conferences, I can’t say enough good things about #SGS11 itself.  First, my hat’s off to the organizers and SGP leadership. My only regret is that they were so busy, I didn’t get much of a chance to meet and speak with them.  There were other folks in attendance I missed, as well: @DavidLimbaugh, @JenEnnenbach are two that come to mind. 

Most of all, I can’t stress enough how blessed I feel to have met so many new friends. (And to anyone I’ve left out, my sincerest apologies.  I know there were more great folks I met, but my brain is so tired I can barely see straight at the moment.  Tweet me, e-mail me, yell at me.  And I’ll be happy to edit you in!!)  What amazingly awesome people!  I found it very hard to say goodbye to them all.

One theme that ran through the weekend was the idea that each of us has a voice.  Each one of us has the ability (and the responsibility) to make a difference.  Which ties in nicely to the third SGS11-related entry bouncing around my brain.  But that one’s deeper and a bit darker and will have to wait until I’ve slept more than 4 hours.  Maybe it will write itself while I’m on the plane to Vegas…..

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