By Leslee Kulba- It was my pleasure to attend this year’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner as the guest of my wise and ever-helpful friends, Chuck and Mary Ann Durand. And yet, I felt out of place. Yes, I never started my own Fortune 500 company, and, yes, I never defeated enemy combatants in hand-to-hand combat. Worse, I was the only one there who was not anxiously engaged in a 24-7 standoff against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was to be the keynote speaker. Like everybody and his brother, I looked forward to hearing from a true patriot, one of those of whom Glenn Beck has said, “These are the people we’ve been praying for.” It wasn’t until the dinner that I learned I was not the only one who thought he had weird hair.
Gowdy can frequently be seen on CSPAN bluntly bucking arrogance and tyranny. He accurately describes himself as a Constitutional conservative fighting for the people. Congressman Mark Meadows, who could not attend the meeting, sent a video of introduction that included several clips of Gowdy making quips that evoked applause and laughter for their direct attacks against overreaches of power in the current administration.
Gowdy began his talk by telling everybody they had to give credit where credit was due. He said as a freshman in the House of Representatives, Patrick McHenry (R-NC) went to bat for him. He persuaded those in power to give a kid from South Carolina, who spoke with a Southern drawl, a chance. He said without McHenry, he would not be serving on any committee, and Lois Lerner and Kathleen Sebelius would therefore not be where they are today.
Gowdy also gave kudos to Meadows, who he said is always last to interrogate, but never fails to ask cogent questions like a 25-year veteran prosecutor. The questions are so good, Gowdy will wait around for hours just to listen.
Gowdy recalled the words of caution shared with him as a freshman: Never assume everybody wants to see you do well. The warning pertained to R’s as well as D’s. “But you guys did,” recalled Gowdy.
He said it might be inappropriate, but he told the audience jam-packing the Grand Ballroom about a disturbing dream he had. John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Patrick McHenry all died at the same time and went to heaven. He said it was possible; a lightning bolt could catch them all on the golf course. Anyway, Boehner got in trouble for stealing self-tanning lotion, cigs, and something else from the local CVS and he was caught boozing it up at the bar with Dean Martin. A voice of thunder rumbled, “John Boehner you have violated the rules of heaven,” and Boehner was attached with a 9’ chain to Nancy Pelosi.
The same voice rumbled, “Eric Cantor, you have violated the rules of heaven.” Cantor had, after all, set Boehner up and ratted on him, wanting all along to be speaker of heaven as well. Cantor was attached with a 7’ chain to Roseanne Barr. Next, Gowdy saw McHenry chained 3’ away from supermodel Cindy Crawford, and the voice rumbled, “Cindy Crawford, you have violated . . . .”
Gowdy asked how Republicans should win elections. Was it in their messaging? Oh, yes, thought I flashing back to the Romney campaign. Anxious to trebuchet socialism from an un-Constitutional concentration of power, I wanted to back Romney. Besides, his family used to live only about ten miles away from mine; and everybody only had the warmest of thoughts for his dad as governor in Michigan. During the first campaign, the message was, “I want to be president.” During the second, it was, “Get out the vote.” Like most Americans, I couldn’t work those messages favorably into conversations around the water cooler.
Gowdy begged those present not to water-down the message. He even cited “Get out the vote,” as a counterexample. People had to stand up for the right thing, and it was OK to go down doing the right thing. Many people had done so before, and they wouldn’t be the last.
He told of flying into Washington, DC, which he frequently does. He passes over the nation’s landmarks, monuments to great men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson, and he lands in an airport named for Ronald Reagan. He walks amongst buildings with statues and other tributes to Martin Luther King, James Madison, and more. Those people, he said, were anomalies in history. Statistically speaking, it would be a waste of most peoples’ time to try to be like them.
Gowdy also flies over all the graves in Arlington National Cemetery. He is too far away to read the names, but he wonders, if he could talk to “one of these old folks,” would they feel their sacrifice was worth it and that those they left behind were honoring their gift.
He recalled watching with his dad on TV the February, 1982 rescue attempts for Air Florida Flight 90. All but six people had died in the icy Potomac. The rescue helicopter dropped the ladder, and Arland Williams passed it off to another passenger. The chopper made four more trips, and every time, Williams passed the ladder to another. When the chopper came back for Williams, he had gone down the proverbial third time.
“The question is not can you be Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln, but can you be Arland Williams? Do you care enough about anything to make a sacrifice?” Gowdy asked. What would those in the audience do to preserve the safeguards the Founding Fathers had put in place for each and every American? Gowdy said he aspired to be like Arland Williams, an everyday hero. He closed saying, “God bless you.”
Chuck later commented that one could have heard a pin drop, but I didn’t notice. I was too busy bawling. I was sitting in the back of the room. Trey and a small entourage were headed for the door at the front. Without a second thought, I bolted out the back door, ran around the hotel halls, and intercepted the entourage in the courtyard. All the normal people stayed seated.
I rushed the entourage, and in true groupie fashion, grabbed Gowdy’s hand and thanked him profusely for all he is doing. Coming to myself, I saw Gowdy politely handling the insanity. As my eyes focused in the dark, I recognized one of the guys in the entourage. It was Patrick McHenry. He was beaming ear-to-ear with a priceless look I can’t say I’d seen before. Our admiration for Gowdy was mutual; but more importantly, McHenry was, as Gowdy had indicated, pleased as punch to play second-fiddle as long as the work progressed.