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Hullabaloo


Sunday, June 26, 2005

 
College HiJinks

It's very tempting to make fun of these college Republicans because they are such earnest little shitheads:

Me: What makes you conservative?

SG: Really It’s b/c I believe in freedom…the freedom to live your life, really. …I believe in free market, free enterprise…I think we should have a right to do what we want. Gov’t. should play as little a role as possible.

Me: Where is the campus conservative movement headed?

SG: I think the conservative movement is headed in the RIGHT direction (haha) …in 3 diff ways. 1) children of the Reagan generation, which ultimately inspires more conservative parenting.
2) I think most ppl believe in the same things I believe in.


3) Because I believe in the same things most people believe in, which is right.

However, it is a big mistake to treat these kids as anything but what they are --- the next generation of Republican strategists and operative. This is because the current generation of Republican strategists and operatives came right out of the college Republicans and I have no doubt that those waiting in the wings were trained at their feet. If you want to know where they learn their shit, it's here.

They cut their teeth playing dirty tricks on each other (see Perlstein's "Before The Storm": Blackwell, Morton, 1964 GOP Convention) and then go on to playing dirty tricks on Democrats. It's kind of adorable in a Rottweiler puppy kind of way. Here's a rundown from last week of the College Republican chairman race:

One of the most controversial solicitations carried the letterhead "Republican Headquarters 2004" and asked for $1,000 "because you have been such a patriot, a Republican stalwart and a loyalist to President Bush and the GOP agenda." The letter was signed by "Paul Gourley, National Director."

Gourley said that he never saw the letter until it was posted on a blog, and that he never approved either the content or the use of his name. He, Hoplin and others in national headquarters led a long negotiation to end the contract with Response Dynamics, he said.

Davidson's platform calls for the College Republicans to "align our fundraising practices with our principles."

Davidson declines to publicly criticize Hoplin and Gourley. But a pro-Davidson blog titled "CRNC Chatter: Truth Fears No Trial" declared: "Paul Gourley was the one who signed the fundraising letters that has brought this organization so much negative attention."

Meanwhile, the pro-Gourley "CR Veterans for Truth" ran a statement from Rhode Island College Republican Chairman Pratik Chougule charging that the Davidson campaign is spreading lies about Gourley. "I was mislead into changing my support," Chougule said. " I discovered that it was given to me from a Davidson insider."



Of course, we are now dealing with layers and layers of dirty tricks operations, most of them the brainchild of Morton Blackwell. The college Republicans with their "Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder" t-shirts are too mainstream for the kind of work that needs to be done on campus these days. This is his new baby:

One recent Sunday, at Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute, a dozen students meet for the second and final day of training in grass-roots youth politics. All are earnest, idealistic and as right wing as you can get. They take careful notes as instructor Paul Gourley teaches them how to rig a campus mock election.

It's nothing illegal -- no ballot stuffing necessary, even at the most liberal colleges. First you find a nonpartisan campus group to sponsor the election, so you can't be accused of cheating. Next, volunteer to organize the thing. College students are lazy, and they'll probably let you. Always keep in mind that a rigged mock election is all about location, location, location.

"Can anyone tell me," asks Gourley, a veteran mock electioneer, "why you don't want the polling place in the cafeteria?"

Stephen, a shy antiabortion activist sitting toward the rear of the class, raises his hand: "Because you want to suppress the vote?"

"Stephen has the right answer!" Gourley exclaims, tossing Stephen his prize, a copy of Robert Bork's "Slouching Toward Gomorrah."

[...]

Blackwell says conservatives are underdogs on college campuses. Conservative students may be better organized, but they're still outnumbered. The Leadership Institute contends that liberal higher education is robbing the conservative movement of new blood -- and thereby handicapping the institute's efforts. "You know, the most conservative students are the freshmen," Blackwell told me. "There is an acculturation there."

And that's where the institute is taking its fight. For most of its 25-year history, it has focused on grooming students to work in conservative politics; it's now increasingly devoting its efforts to making campuses more conservative places. Through its Campus Leadership Program, the institute is leading a growing effort to found and support a national network of conservative student groups and publications capable of permanently altering the intellectual and social environment of universities to conservatives' advantage. That goal alone is a stark rejection of the standard conservative complaint that post-Vietnam War higher education is not just grossly liberal, but irredeemably so. Already, the program has shown considerable success. Asked about his campus initiative, Blackwell simply says, "You're talking about the major project for the rest of my life."


The College Republicans are now too high profile to be doing the kinds of serious work that needs to be done to dismantle the last remaining institution that isn't radically right wing. They needed a couple of degrees of separation and Old Mort was just the guy to do it:

"You can get away with stuff that you would take a lot of flak for doing in the College Republicans," says CLP director Dan Flynn. "Because we're independent, we can do activities that push the envelope," agrees University of Miami senior Sarah Canale, whose CLP-organized Advocates for Conservative Thought threw an affirmative action bake sale last year in which the price of a cupcake varied according to the race of its buyer. That it was controversial, she believes, was a victory in itself.


Oh, and by the way, the guy who was teaching the students about suppressing the vote at the "non-partisan" Leadership Institute class and who signed the fundraising letter bilking little old ladies of thousands of dollars, Paul Ghourley?

As of yesterday, he is the new president of the College Republicans. Meet the next Karl Rove. Same as the old Karl Rove.



Here's a shout out to the blogosphere. In their usual fealty to Stalinist tactics, the College Republicans have removed a document from their site called "The History of the College Republicans." It was there fairly recently when I was writing about the Abramoff, Norquist scandals. It's a pdf file that was referenced by quite a few other sites, although I can't seem to find it replicated in its entirety.

I am, admittedly, naive and I didn't download the file, merely bookmarked the link. My bad. Does anyone out there have it? This was the link:

http://www.crnc.org:8013/admin/editpage/downloads/CRNChistory.pdf

It was a fascinatingly candid rundown of all the big names who got their start in the College Republicans, with a particular emphasis on the legendary trio of Abramoff, Norquist and Reed. It's no wonder they don't want to draw attention to their affiliation with crooks --- and that requires obliterating their entire history, I understand that.



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