Sunday, February 12, 2012

CPAC 2012!

So, CPAC 2012 was an amazing experience that I'll never forget. Over the course of three days I ran into more people than I could possibly count. It was such a wonderful thing to see and talk to so many young conservatives like myself from across the country. The Marriott Hotel was jam-packed full of people and I rubbed shoulders with high-ranking officials, party types, and the Presidential candidates!

Just by chance and sheer luck, my friends and I ran into Rep. Allen West as we were waiting for an elevator. He took some time to talk to us and we managed to get a picture with him! We also got to see Gingrich and his wife up close as they made their way through the hotel. Secret Service was all over us! He didn't stop to shake our hands, which was disappointing, but he was set to give a speech very shortly before that so I'm sure his mind was focused elsewhere?

I didn't get to meet Governor Romney or Rick Santorum face to face, but one of my friends actually bumped into Santorum when the former Senator was leaving the speaker sign-in area. I did get to see Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott, both of which are favorites of mine. Rubio especially. His speech was absolutely brilliant and full of passion.

We ran into Herman Cain, his bus, and his campaign manager. Remember the commercial with the older gentlemen that was smoking? It caused a big buzz on national television? I met him on my way out! We chatted for a short time. I also met one of the ladies from The Five as we were leaving for the night, but she didn't seem too thrilled to see us. Maybe it was a long day? I won't hold it against her.

On Saturday the events were kind of slow, so Clay Evans and I decided to take a trip downtown. He hadn't been to the heart of DC since 5th Grade, so I thought I'd treat him. On the metro I met with an older English gentlemen who played in some Chess championships in Boston. He gave me some article that he wrote (shameless self-promotion!) and I'll have to find his name. In any event, I took Clay to see the White House, the World War II memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam wall, and finally some exhibits in the American History Museum. He was very glad and quite excited about the whole thing. I knew he had really wanted to see some of the sights, and since it would be his last year in college Lord knows if he would ever have the time to do something like this again.

During the three day event we had to deal with Occupy DC protesters shouting outside of the hotel and blockading off the main entrance and then a side entrance on separate days. We were called racists, bigots, and 1%'ers. Some of them even broke into the hotel lobby during Romney's speech but the police and security very quickly got rid of them. I will say that the police were very professional and they kept order. There were perhaps 100-200 people protesting us when the crowd was at its largest, but it was very ineffective. There were at least 1,000 of us. I took some pictures. Some of us started dancing to their drum-circle music while the rest laughed. All in all it was a fun time.

There's something to be said for attending an event with a large number of people that you know, by and large, feel the same way about the problems facing this country as you do. People are friendly (mostly), respectful, fun, talkative, and I think everyone felt reasonably comfortable to strike up conversation. I know I did. I spoke with students from Ireland, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, just to name a few. I'm still trying to find them on Facebook! Haha.

It was a tremendously positive experience that I would do again in a heartbeat. Now, pictures!

Monday, January 30, 2012

And So It Goes!

So! I should say that (For the moment) I worried about nothing on Thursday. I ended up taking the day off and being lazy, and doing some homework for the following week. I'm not sure if my other cohorts made it into work, I know of at least one or two who did. They wondered where I was! I didn't even get an e-mail back from my supervisor, nor did anyone really seem to care that I wasn't in on Thursday. Friday was a boring, slow day. Though, the Chief of Staff did bring in coffee and donuts and gave all of us interns some time to chat with the staff. It was nice. It's quite an amazing revelation coming to work in Washington to find that the Congressional staff (at least on our end) is actually very small. Maybe one or two dozen people including unpaid interns staff the DC office. You get to see how the mail is sorted, who is responsible for which area of policy, and really get to know them on a semi-personal basis. It's slow, tedious, and sometimes thankless work but that's the nature of interning. I'm hopeful because soon I'll ask for Thursday and Friday off to go to CPAC. Some friends from Wheaton will be coming down from Thursday to Sunday so I intend to show them a good time. We'll be yucking it up like a bunch of Conservatives. It'll be great.

All in all, I expect this week to be fairly uneventful. The class seminar I'm involved with for part of the program here has been just first rate. We've met with people who are at the top of their field and nationally recognized. We met the ad guy responsible (largely) for Obama's victory in 2008. We met with top Republican communications directors in the Republican National Committee building. Today I got to meet one of the men in charge of -the- private company which handles redistricting and reapportionment. Alas, he's a Demo. I'm assured that there's more to come, too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trouble in the Trenches

So today was a wasted day. I got up bright and early for my internship all prepared for my long slog in the office and skipped on down to the Woodley Park Metro Station. Immediately I knew something was wrong. Even for the rush-hour traffic there were far too many people on the platform. Getting on the tips of my toes I checked the boards and eventually I found out that there was an unscheduled track maintenance. From what I could find out, one of the rail's along the Red Line had "cracked". Not a problem. I always leave early and I have a comfortable window of 20 minutes or so in case of things like this. Well, those 20 minutes swept on by, as did train after train of packed cars. When I say packed I mean packed. The cars were so stuffed that there wasn't enough physical space left on any of the cars as people were shuttled off to downtown DC. I considered calling my intern coordinator to inform him that I was late when I realized I didn't have his phone number. What's worse, service was terrible. I had been there for close to 45 minutes (the point of no return, I was going to be late even if a train appeared out of nowhere) before giving up. I huffed it back to my apartment to shoot an e-mail to my supervisor. Wasn't going to make it.

As I was about to press the elevator call button one of my acquaintances (who happens to be working for a powerful Republican House Member) bumped into me. She was about to do what I had just done. She convinced me to give it another go so together we went back down to the metro station. I spent another twenty minutes or so watching full traincars go by with no real ETA on the next train. At this time, a little before 10:25 (I had left my room at 8AM) I decided to just go back to my apartment. I sent my supervisor an  e-mail and hopefully there won't be any repercussions.

I'm sure they would've wanted me to come in later over not coming in at all, but I weighed the options. I didn't want to cram myself in the traincar and get smushed between the closing doors (this happened to me twice and I had to get off the train both times), nor did I want to wait another half hour in that station. I could've taken the bus, but everyone was taking the bus. Equally crammed. I don't have a car, and I sure as hell wasn't going to pay for a cab to go across DC. I'm doing this for free, and on a good day its a 45 minute commute. I'm sure I'll get some small talking-to for it. Who knows! I spent the day catching up my reading, running some errands, and being lazy.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Important meetings tomorrow so I'll make more of an effort to get there, late or not.