Samuel Coates writes about last week's BritainAndAmerica visit to Washington DC.
The main purpose of the trip that Tim and I enjoyed last week was to meet with friends, thinkers and politicians in order to discuss how to develop the agenda of this website - the transatlantic relationship in particular.
The main meetings we had on this topic were with John Bolton (former Ambassador to the United Nations, now at the American Enterprise Institute), Rick Santorum (former Senator, now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center), Tim Goeglein (Deputy Director of The White House's Office of Public Liason), Nile Gardiner (Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom), Adrian Wooldridge (Washington DC Editor for The Economist), Jennifer Marshall (Director of Domestic Policy at the Heritage Foundation) Seth Liebsohn (Producer of Bill Bennett's Morning in America), Gerard Baker (US Editor of the Times in London) and Peter Brookes (Foreign Policy expert at the Heritage Foundation), amongst several others.
On Monday, Tim Montgomerie (Editor of Britain and America - pictured on the right above) debated the post-Blair transatlantic relationship at the Hudson Institute, with Geoffrey Wheatcroft, John O'Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens. It was an interesting debate, with Wheatcroft and Hitchens clashing horns over historical analogies and Montgomerie giving insights into the current political climate in Britain. Wheatcroft was alone in believing Blair was a mere poodle to Bush, with Hitchens pointing out that his hawkishness against Serbia and his famous Chicago speech of 1999 showed Blair was an interventionist while George W Bush was still governing Texas. The debate was recorded for C-SPAN but has not yet been broadcast.
On Tuesday, we gave a presentation to a number of Capitol Hill bloggers about our work on BritainAndAmerica and ConservativeHome. Rob Bluey, who chaired the event at the Heritage Foundation, followed this up with an article on TownHall, and David All with a video interview. Another of our contacts - Reihan Salam - has written about ConservativeHome.com on Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.
One of the best observations made by one of the above was that there are in fact two transatlantic relationships - those between the Right and Left on both sides. Arguably, the transatlantic relationship of the Left (in the media class and diplomatic services, in particular) has never been stronger, whilst the opposite could be true of the Right.
With the exception of the relentlessly optimistic, most conservatives we met were very despondent about the state of conservatism in America. They felt let down by the Bush administration and were uninspired by the contenders for the presidential candidacy. Adrian Wooldridge is to give a speech to the Philadelphia Society about the future of conservatism later this week. It will be the first time he has addressed the subject since he co-authored The Right Nation, and we will analyse it here.
The tragedy in Virginia meant there was little opportunity to promote our new video - Can America trust the BBC? - but it has nonetheless been viewed more than 13,000 times so far.
We weren't the only conservative Brits in town - Matthew, Blair and Corin from the excellent TaxPayers'Alliance happened to be over at the same time to share notes with similar organisations in America. The four of us had a very interesting diversion in visiting the White House to see George W Bush board the Marine One helicopter.
Over the next few days we will be posting in more detail about some of our Washington discussions:
- The unhappiness of Washington's conservatives;
- The reasons why the White House looks set to turn blue;
- The two transatlantic relationships;
- The Tories and America;
- What should be done about Iran?
- Is Hillary a secret hawk?