Since Fred Maidment did a nice overview of Redstate Gathering '09 [ahem], I'll post a more personal one.
I drove to Atlanta from my home in Central Illinois, a distance of 562 miles. On the way, I realized that they put Atlanta in the wrong time zone and oops, I was going to be late. So I drove fast. It was great fun, even though I missed my turn in Vienna (vy-ENN-uh), IL. Since I drive a diesel Jetta, I didn't have to stop for fuel, and made it in just over eight hours.
I love gatherings like this, because I'm something of an extrovert. I almost pathologically talk to everyone, and this meeting was no exception.
In short order after arrival I met bs, Aaron Gardner, penguin2, and many others. We watched the Ziegler clip compilation and went upstairs for a reception*. Aaron, Fred, Suzanna and her husband, penguin2 and hers, Amy Miller, ColdWarrior, the aptly named snarkandboobs, and more people than I can name all went to dinner. I had the best bleu cheeseburger ever, and more overpriced drink.
At the reception, I fell instantly in love with Amy, Suzanna, and penguin2. I was at first too shy to talk to the Aptly Named One. Just saying, guys.
Then came the highlight of my weekend, meeting longtime Redstate contributor AcademicElephant. But from her perspective it seems the meeting was more bas relief than highlight! Never the less, we passed an enjoyable evening shouting over music that was too loud, and too awful, to appreciate as anything but virtual soundproofing.
The music was truly loud and awful, so I was able to monopolize her conversation for at least a week that night. Did I mention I was thrilled? But too soon, she was ready to turn in. I made sure a responsible fellow walked her back to the hotel. I, on the other hand, closed down the bar with some of Erick's friends. They're all doctors who are not happy about government health care, you see. I'm not sure what my excuse is.
I got to bed at about 2:30am, then woke up refreshed and ready to go at 5:30 the next morning. OK, so I woke up drunk and crawled into the bathroom for water. Then I put on running clothes and went for a nice 5 mile run around the tony parts of Buckhead. I hoped I didn't still smell like beer afterward.
After breakfast, we mingled and listened to remarkable speaker after amazing speaker. I went out to see if I could touch base with AE and apologize for monopolizing her society. It turned out, to my utter surprise, that she had wanted to meet me, too. She went over to wait to greet Liz Cheney, since they are acquainted. Skanderbeg and I waited with her.
Soon Liz arrived, and wow, just wow. I asked her if she "read our little blog". She said that like many folks in DC, she did read us, that we were "famous". Aw, shucks, ma'am. I told her that I really appreciated her style as an interview subject, because she challenged the premises, stated and unstated, behind the questions she was asked. She gracefully thanked me, even though she probably gets that all the time. Skanderbeg brought her coffee (a task I would have been willing to perform, but would probably have botched). We walked to meet the crowd.
Like the other speakers, Liz Cheney was awesome, and especially so.
I didn't get to hear all of the speakers, because I left after lunch to get the car prepared for the trip back. Mr. Wisdom had left his lights on.
I did make it back to hear Nikki Haley, candidate for SC governor. Head. Over. Heels. A beautiful lady with a soft South Carolina accent and the grit of Thomas Crown. She said what I wish every other Republican would say: it's the spending.
I cornered Nikki at the closing reception*, and asked her if her opponents had made an issue of race (her parents are from India). Yes, of course. Religion? Yes, of course. Her parents are of the Sikh religion, but she became a Christian at about the time she got married. She answered my questions with such grace and class that I grilled her some more.
Three years ago, Diana Irey (R-PA) challenged Jack Murtha(D-Okinawa) for his House seat. She got a lot of attention, and even made a race out of it, but lost. In a remarkable AE interview of Mrs. Irey, with regard to immigraion Diana said she wanted "a tall fence with a wide gate". That metaphor stuck with me, because it fits perfectly with what I want out of immigration reform. I think it's really what most people want, too. We want to keep out the people we want out, but to let in as many people as we can. I told Nikki Haley that, and she seemed to agree. I hope she uses it, and I hope Diana gets credit somehow.
On the way back, I stuck to a more reasonable speed. Mostly.
* at which we bought overpriced drinks and gabbed.