Sumo told me about this article at Alternet called Neocons on a Cruise: What Conservatives Say When They Think We Aren't Listening. Johann Hari, the reporter, set simple ground rules for himself when he booked himself as a guest on the National Review's annual cruise for Conservatives. He had one rule for himself:
If any of the conservative cruisers asked who I was, I answered honestly, telling them I was a journalist. Mostly, I just tried to blend in - and find out what American conservatives say when they think the rest of us aren't listening.
If you have not read the article, you must. The cruise was organized through one of my competitors, which doesn't surprise me, and people paid a massive premium to join the cruise. But I looked into the one that just ended: Alaska, on the ms Noordam, July 29 - August 5, 2007 so you can't get on. However, when you click on the link, John Bolton's face pops up at you telling you he's just been added as a speaker. What is it about Neo-Conservatives that when they try to smile, they look like it hurts?
One of last year's cruise guests, Steven M. Warshawsky, wrote this article about his experience. He said
We weren't on the cruise for the sunny and scenic destinations; we were on it for the conservative camaraderie and bonhomie for which National Review cruises are well known. The NR cruises offer an unparalleled opportunity for ordinary folks like us to meet and mingle with leading conservative academics, commentators, and politicians.
Isn't that nice? Ordinary people getting to experience conservative camaraderie and bonhomie. How nice. Johann Hari describes this bonhomie well:
The etiquette here is different from anything I have ever seen. It takes me 15 minutes to realise what is wrong with this scene. There are no big hugs, no warm kisses. This is a place of starchy handshakes. Men approach each other with stiffened spines, puffed-out chests and crunching handshakes. Women are greeted with a single kiss on the cheek. Anything more would be French.
Sounds delightful. Mr. Hari mentions a Judge he encounters on the cruise who is the founder of Canadians Against Suicide Bombing Mr. Hari asks him if there would be many members of Canadians FOR Suicide Bombing, and the Judge, confused, replied that yes, there would be. Hmmmm. Yet at dinner, one of Mr. Hari's table-mates said, regarding the United Nations building in New York, "They should suicide-bomb that place."
Mr. Hari confronts Kenneth Starr:
Mr Starr, do you feel ashamed that, as Osama bin Laden plotted to murder American citizens, you brought the American government to a stand-still over a few consensual blow jobs? Do you ever lie awake at night wondering if a few more memos on national security would have reached the President's desk if he wasn't spending half his time dealing with your sexual McCarthyism?Starr replies with a series of legalese versions of "It's not my fault." No accountability. No concern. Conflicting morals. A cruise fueled by hate. Not a way I want to spend MY summer vacation.