March 30, 2010 at 9:01 am EDT | by Robert Turner
My date with Meghan McCain

OK, fine, it wasn’t really a date. She spoke last Thursday at George Washington. But we had drinks at the Palomar Hotel afterwards. Yes, there were four other people there, too. Pesky details.

But suffice it to say that I did have an enjoyable time.

I must say, before last week, I was a little on the fence about Meghan. I was of the mindset that she only had a platform because of who her father is. But she owned it: “I can’t change the fact that my dad is a United States senator and ran for president. But I can use said platform to bring about civil discourse, and true equality for all.”

She was a guest speaker at the George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium. The event was sponsored by several university groups and the Log Cabin Republicans. And the event wasn’t without controversy.

There was a protest of about 15-20 Young Americans for Freedom members. But don’t be fooled. This wasn’t your parents’ protest. These YAFers had cake and lemonade. What the heck kind of a protest is that? There was also a counter protest by Meghan supporters.

The crux of Meghan’s speech was to redefine Republicanism; to make room in the party for diverse viewpoints and ideological differences. A viewpoint I share with her.

A few days later on ABC’s “This Week,” former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, while not echoing those beliefs specifically, agreed with the need for the Republican Party to embrace a myriad of conservative values. Noonan said that “apart from being a great political philosophy, [conservatism] has within it the spirit of a rebellion.” She went on to conclude that the movement recently “seems to take on the spirit of an orthodoxy and of a strict ideology. That is not a good thing. Let a thousand flowers bloom.”

Too many on the right invoke Ronald Reagan’s name when talking about conservative ideas and principles. But Reagan wasn’t just a loadstone for conservatives. He was so for moderates, independents and even Democrats. Reagan used to refer to America as that shining city on a hill. But to the chagrin of many on the right, that shining city is not a gated community.

But back to my date.

After her speech and Q&A session, there was a brief reception where sponsors and supporters were able to get their picture snapped with the guest of honor. Once we had our turn, she turned and whispered to us, “Let’s grab a drink after this.”

Did I mention she loves her Log Cabin gays?

So we met up at the Hotel Palomar bar and had a few adult beverages and some light fare. We talked about politics and pop culture and all things gay in D.C. It was a lovely time.

And by the end of the night, Meghan had won herself a new fan.

Robert Turner is president of The Turner Group, a D.C.-based government relations firm, and can be reached at

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