Yes Virginia, there is a vast right wing conspiracy, and I’ve just been to its weekly meeting.
Every Wednesday morning in the boardroom of Americans for Tax Reform, around 100 leadings lights of the VRWC meet for two hours, and I was kindly extended an invitation.
These meetings are highly impressive and focused. All the big lobby and industry groups are there, along with reps from the Bush campaign plus the Republican Senate and House campaigns.
There was one main speaker, FCC Chairman Michael Powell on what is happening in his area, and then briefer contributions from around 20 others on issues of the day and week. The Bush campaign gave out the latest Kerry gaffes, the House and Senate campaigns talked about key seats and candidates where they wanted support. Various members of Congress were also in attendance.
Lobby groups touched on what they were trying to achieve, and some of these would generate considerable debate. Reducing taxation has 100% support, but on issues like the Patriot II Act or the attempt by the recording industries to criminalise file sharing software, there was considerable opposition. These were classed as “issues on which the family has disagreements” in a line which reminded me of the Sopranos
The meetings are Chatham House rules, so I can’t give details of who attended and said what, but as this article states, they are the people who run the federal govenrment.
It is of course not a conspiracy, but an excellent example of discipline, targeted communications and focused strategy. They started in 1993, and are now regarded by many as the most influential meeting in Washington
The number of handouts was large and I left with 40 – 50 from various groups on issues they wanted people to be aware of. This means people leave with material, to back up their oral presentations, which they can easily share within their own organisations.
I’ll definitely make sure that any future vists to Washington, always include a free Wednesday morning. I can’t think of any other forum where one can get direct access to so many people. I just hope they do not discover I am not really the shadow Minister of Finance for New Zealand (just kidding).
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