On Getting Tossed From the "Defending the American Dream" Conference:
So when the Rude Pundit read that not only was there a right wing blogger conference going on in Austin as a kind of sad counterprogramming to the massive Netroots Nation convention, but that the demiCoulter herself, Michelle Malkin, would be speaking, he decided he needed to bail for a little while the netrootsers, especially after Malkin called out the Rude Pundit's panel on her blog (which, admittedly, had called her out). Together with David Neiwert and Mike Stark, the Rude Pundit headed over to the Austin Renaissance Hotel, on the outskirts of the city. Stark had procured a video camera; Neiwert had a voice recorder.
The Rude Pundit prefers to traffic in subversion, getting inside gatherings and groups, and learning about what people say in private. He would totally go on a Hannidate. He wanted to try to get into the Malkin speech, talk to some of the gathered conservatives, play, have fun, and, if given a chance to get up to the microphone, ask Malkin if she would share a terrorist-approved Dunkin' Donut. Alas, this was not to be.
For Stark's approach is a bit more forthright. In serial killer terms, the Rude Pundit prefers slow poisoning or a quick switchblade; Stark is more of your chainsaw-and-sledgehammer type. He saw Wall Street Journal editorialist and occasional TV gabfest guest John Fund, asked the Rude Pundit to start filming, and stopped Fund in the lobby. After handing Fund a deck of cards with gay Republicans on them, Stark asked the befuddled but vaguely charmed Fund if he had had sex with Grover Norquist. Now, a wise man would have walked away. Fund was not a wise man. Demanding to know Stark's sources, Fund was confrontational, angry, bullying, and threatening with accompanying gesticulation. Stark was relatively calm as he accused Fund of hypocrisy and giving aid to the enemy. Indeed, if an objective observer were to ask who was making a scene, the obvious choice would be Fund.
(Before you feel any pity for Fund, read a few of his articles. Check him out praising Jesse Helms [Helms wasn't a bigot - he was just misunderstood], his Obama/Rezkio conspiracy fluffing, and his appearance on Bill Maher's show, just being a dick. No, he's not the most evil guy, but you can still kick a henchman in the balls before you get to Ming the Merciless.)
Finally, when Stark refused to give up any sources, Fund walked away. By the way, the Rude Pundit was not the only person filming or taking photos of the confrontation. Then we headed over to the ballroom where the actual conference was occurring. Stark struck again. He saw a lonely Grover Norquist signing books (although everyone was already at lunch, listening to Michael Steele, getting lubed up for Malkin), and Fund had walked over to Norquist, as if to make sure any rumors were proven true. Norquist, though, was having none of it. He more or less told Stark to go fuck himself and offered to sign a book. Hateful as he is, that is a wise man.
The two middle-aged Hispanic security guys, in very nice suits, walked over to us at this point and told us that unless we were registered for the conference, we had to leave. So, in a seemingly logical gesture, we headed over to the registration table. The Rude Pundit was aching to get in to see Malkin. We were ready to pay, half-registered, when organizers asked the kid helping us to come over to a conversation with the security guys. We knew they didn't want our money and that we were done.
Stark and the Rude Pundit walked over to the magic circle and offered to be nice at the Malkin show. One of the organizers said there were 400 people there. Sure, whatever. There were an awful lot of unclaimed badges sitting at the registration table and it was the last six hours of their conference, this being Saturday.
Finally, after asking the Rude Pundit to shut off the camera (he didn't - just putting it down and filming his crotch and shoes for a while), the very nicely dressed Hispanic security guys told us we had to leave the entire premises of the hotel, including the grounds and parking lot, or the police would be called. There would be no negotiation.
Out we headed, just in time to watch Fund and Norquist leave the hotel together and walk over to - not shitting you, dear readers - TGI Friday's for lunch. Perhaps the hard bones of the baby back ribs were calling them. One cannot be sure. There were better restaurants around, even though we were in mega-corporate chain central. The security guards at that point had stepped outside the lobby and were watching to make sure we left completely.
A couple of notes:
1. Yes, the Rude Pundit was pissed at Stark for coming on so strong right out of the gate. Run the marathon, motherfucker. And, yes, he let Stark know it (although the footage we got was golden and, truly, Stark's a good guy). Stark apologized profusely.
2. Poor Dave Neiwert was shut down almost as soon as he got there. Although he got to sit in the lobby.
3. All of this is on video. And the Rude Pundit promises you and John Fund, who was insistent about it, that as soon as he has it (right now, Stark is working with the tape), he will post the complete, unedited footage so you can judge for yourself.
Later today: Final observations on Netroots Nation