I attended one of these for our side in early 2005, and the experience was so miserable that it ended up being a major inspiration for Crashing the Gate. It was full of the same progressive "leaders" who had gotten us into our predicament, and their solutions were the same bullshit that had gotten us in the mess in the first place. So I left that retreat even more motivated to wage war against our party's political and issue-group establishment. Our victories in recent years have come, in large part, from our ability to bypass that crowd.
Those early tensions are mostly erased, as a new balance has been struck by issue groups more and more aware of the need to be part of a holistic progressive movement, rather than focus obsessively and divisively on their own single pet cause. It really is night and day. But that didn't come out of that conference. And it certainly wasn't billed as a way to generate a new grassroots movement. The notion of having a bunch of top-down movement leaders create a new "national grassroots" operation by fiat from up and above, by the same jokers who created the mess the GOP is currently in, is pretty laughable.
I believe we have fallen prey to the same problem that befell the left in its years in the wilderness. You had environmental groups, abortion rights groups, womens groups, unions, minority groups -- but no progressive movement.
Today on the right we have social conservative groups, economic groups -- subdivided into tax cutters and spending hawks, national security groups, gun groups, etc. but no truly mass-based conservative movement. Perhaps the best exponent of across-the-board conservatism is Rush, but he has no lists and no way to mobilize his audience directly to donate and volunteer.
When conservatism was a minority we may have needed single issue groups to pick off, say, pro-gun union members. But since Reagan, an entire generation has grown up thinking of themselves as nothing but conservatives. And they have no representation among the 1980s-era groups.
Whatever happened at that country estate will be irrelevant to the future of the movement. I'll bet not a single person under 40 was even at the table. The future will be shaped digitally, Here Comes Everybody-like, on blogs like this one, RedState, Save the GOP, the American Scene, and the dozens I have a feeling will be created in the wake of Tuesday's wake up call.