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 learned of the get-together only 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."
Under the reasonable assumption that "family values" plays a major role in the CNP worldview (along with a natural proclivity for judging others before judging themselves), we have to believe that all of that "applauding, cheering, yelling" came to abrupt end once it was confirmed that Palin's (unmarried) seventeen-year old daughter is pregnant. Many have argued over whether or not God has a sense of humor; but, were I not serious in my atheist convictions, I would be only too happy to acknowledge God as the Supreme Ironist. Considerations about God aside, though, I suspect that I am one among many experiencing Schadenfreude at this particular conjunction of events!