“We have lost our confidence, or, as younger people would say, ‘mojo,’” Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn told a not-so-young crowd at the New York Conservative Party’s 49th Annual Dinner at the Sheraton last night.
Mr. Coburn was speaking generally of the country’s malaise, not about the state of the state Conservative Party, which seems to have regained some mojo in recent months.
The dinner—proudly titled “Recovering Row C”–celebrated the party’s move back to the third ballot line, and came as its chairman, Mike Long, has inserted the party into the debate over same-sex marriage, by pledging to deny an endorsement to any legislator who supports the measure.
But there was no mention of the divisive social issue among last night’s speakers.
Sounding like Andy Rooney on an off-night, Senator Coburn spoke about a range of problems that show government’s overbearing influence on everyday people – from energy efficient light bulbs that burn out too fast to less toxic laundry detergent that means that you have to wash your shirt twice as often.
“It’s all about fiscal freedom,” said one attendee during the pre-dinner cocktail hour. “Marriage and abortion are smaller issues that liberals bring up.”
Sitting legislators–both state and national–were mostly absent, due to ongoing sessions in Washington and Albany. “It’s hard having an event on a Wednesday night, but I am sure they did it for a reason,” said an intern for Republican (and Conservative!) Congressman Michael Grimm.
Former congressman Joe DioGuardi recommended the new book of his daughter, Kara, who was a judge on American Idol, and said he didn’t need the Senate seat he lost to Kirsten Gillibrand last year, to have a positive effect on politics.
“I don’t need a title to do something good for America,” DioGuardi said.
Charlie Duffy, the supervisor of Lewisboro, a town in upper Westchester, gave out packets of seeds with his campaign slogan on one side and an American flag on the other, before organizers herded the guests past life sized portraits of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea touting the Clinton Global Initiative, and into the banquet room.
Jim Lisante–a Catholic priest who frequently cheerleads Republican and Conservative causes and has prayerfully attacked both President Obama and former Governor Spitzer–led an invocation, followed by an endorsement of Coburn–but said the two should not be confused.
“Nobody is more of a soul mate of the conservatives than Senator Coburn,” he said.
Lisante also made a joke about people accusing him of being in bed with Fox. “I’d be happy to go to bed with anyone,” he joked.
Chairman Long spoke about the party and, on the occasion of their 49th annual dinner, expressed his certainty that the 50th dinner would coincide with a conservative presidential candidate.
Senator Coburn accepted his award and spoke at length about broad topics such as fiscal responsibility and freedom. He got the most applause was when he mentioned that he had delivered 912 babies in four years.
Midway through the Senator’ speech, a woman who looked as though she had enjoyed the cocktail hour tottered back into the banquet room. “He’s still talking,” she mouthed.