Gala-hopping With Los Angeles Republicans

by | November 5, 2008

T. A. Frank is an editor at the Washington Monthly and an Irvine Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Insight on party decoration, gleaned at 6:30 p.m., 11/4/2008: Abundant balloons, in the absence of abundant human beings, is a real downer. When I arrived at a lobby restaurant in the downtown Los Angeles Marriott, Ohio had just been called for Barack Obama. The crowd of about 20 McCain-Palin supporters had gathered for an election-night party sponsored by an impressively lengthy line-up of Republican organizations in Los Angeles (the Hollywood Congress of Republicans, the Southern California Republican Club, the Korean American Republican Association, the San Fernando Valley Republican Club, and the Republican National Hispanic Assembly), but the event felt rather like a surprise bash for a birthday boy who didn't show. So the guests glumly nursed drinks, chewed on miniature burgers, and watched Brit Hume. "Based on his associations with people like Khalidi and Ayers," said Daniel Stroncak, a screenwriter and member of the Hollywood Congress of Republicans, "Obama normally wouldn't even get the security clearance I had when I was in the military." And now, Stroncak noted with dismay, Obama was going to command the whole apparatus. "In four years, we'll make a correction," he said.

I'd driven down to the Marriott and shelled out for valet parking ($1.75 per 15 minutes, a pre-recession--dare I say Republican--price) as part of an election-eve mission to search for Republican life on a Democratic night in a Democratic town. I particularly wanted to get a sense of whether the great debate about conservative first principles was about to be re-launched. Clearly, however, the Marriott crowd wasn't going to be large enough give me much of an impression.

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