The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted Take Back Georgetown Day Saturday, kicking off what featured speaker Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard and Fox News called a “war of liberation” against the university’s perceived liberal majority.
Barnes joined keynote speaker Rep. Roy Blunt, who has served as interim House majority leader since Rep. Tom Delay was forced to step down earlier this month. Blunt is going up against Reps. John Shadegg and John Boehner for the position of permanent House majority leader. He is expected to win.
Blunt kicked off the conference by offering encouragement to the conservative students at Georgetown, saying, “A campus is a great place to learn about politics.” He asserted the need to “ensure that the conservative view be expressed on college campuses, so that students have the chance to determine which argument is best.”
Blunt addressed many of the issues facing Congress, including immigration, health care reform and the rising federal deficit. He emphasized his belief in a limited federal government, by repeatedly asking, “Could this be done better somewhere else?”
When asked about the current debate on lobbying reform, and the scandal involving conservative lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Blunt turned his ire toward the media.
“If we left political discussion up to the mainstream media, we would not be the majority today,” Blunt said.
He stressed the need for “low limits” and increased discussion of the contentious issues surrounding the practice of lobbying.
“The members of Congress are much more talented than the media gives them credit,” said Blunt in an expression of his confidence that Congress will make reforms in time for the 2006 election.
“Blunt clearly laid out what Republicans have to do if they want to maintain control of the Congress,” said attendee Iris Somberg, a GW freshman.
Jonah Goldberg, founder of the National Review Online, blended pointed humor with a strong conservative message, criticizing President Bush.
“I hate compassionate conservatism. It is just a Republican version of Clintonism,” he said. Goldberg expressed his disapproval of soaring federal spending under Bush, but added that he supports increased military expenditures because Republicans “like things that go boom.”
Though he supports the president, Goldberg was critical of some of his priorities, questioning why Bush would like to “send Americans to Mars and move illegal immigrants to America.” Bush has proposed a voyage to Mars and a guest-worker program for migrants.
“This event has reminded me why I am not conservative,” said Elizabeth Lowry, a GW freshman who was one of the few liberals that attended the convention. “I came because I think it is important to understand others’ ideas, and I can understand that it is hard to be conservative on such a liberal campus.”
Noting the strong Democratic presence at Georgetown, Alex Bozmoski, founding chairman of Take Back Georgetown Day, told The Hatchet that he hoped the event would illustrate the “strength and solidarity of the conservative movement here and everywhere.”
Andrew Palczewski, a member of the GW College Republicans, expressed his desire for GW to emulate Take Back Georgetown Day.
“An event like TBGD could and would be successful at GW,” he said. “After all, GW has such a strong College Republican group,” he added.
In the final speech of the day, The Weekly Standard’s Barnes defended Bush’s policies while admitting that 2005 was a “bad year” for the White House. Barnes praised U.S. efforts to spread democracy abroad, reminding the audience of America’s dominance on the world stage.
“Do you think the EU matters?” Barnes asked, referring to the European Union. “Oh please …”