CPAC serenade; a primer
By Lee Russ
Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 03:21 PM
So the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) met the other day, with Ken Mehlman and Bill Frist reported to be prominent speakers, as was "the wan and ownly" Ann Coulter. As Jane Smiley said far better than I could:
I understand that all the folks at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend are busy celebrating their accomplishments. Since they live in the same overextended, widely hated, and increasingly impoverished nation that I do, where the "president" and the "vice-president" think they can break the law with impunity, where the bureaucracy has been eviscerated of everyone who actually knows anything, and in a world where, in some circles, "US" is a byword for "torture" (did you notice that no one wanted to sit with Laura Bush at the Winter Olympics?), I can only assume that what I see and lament is the same thing they see and celebrate.
If you've not had the odd sensation of listening to that CPACers say with a straight face, here's a quick 2006 CPAC primer, of the Dick & Jane type (for those old enough to remember those grade school reader):
CPAC. CPAC lie. Lie, CPAC, lie.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman yesterday accused Democratic leaders of wanting to deny law enforcement officials the tools they need to defend against terrorism and criticized them for challenging President Bush's program of warrantless surveillance of potential terrorists.
In a sharply worded speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mehlman said Republicans do not question the patriotism of the opposition party leaders, but he added, "These are people we know love their country. The question is: Can they protect it?"
CPAC. CPAC rant. Rant, CPAC, rant
Ann Coulter was on the menu later in the day. She didn't disappoint--characterizing Muslims as "ragheads," comparing moderate Republicans to slave plantations and wishing she'd assassinated Bill Clinton.
CPAC. CPAC pander. Pander, CPAC, pander.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) spoke after Mehlman, and he promised that on June 5 he will bring to the floor a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage, and pledged a May vote on eliminating the estate tax, items high on the conservative agenda.
Frist said the amendment is needed to protect the majority of Americans, whom he said oppose same-sex marriage, from "the whims of a few activist judges" who seek to "override the commonsense of the American people." He added, "When America's values are under attack, we need to act."
CPAC. CPAC posture. Posture, CPAC, posture.
He [Mehlman] urged his audience of conservative activists to take the GOP message directly to friends and neighbors, rather than trusting major news organizations that he said have failed to understand the appeal of conservative ideas and leaders.
"We can't depend on the . . . mainstream media to do it for us," he said. "They got Ronald Reagan wrong, just like Democrats did, and they're still getting conservatives wrong."
Yet hopeful signs can appear even in an atmosphere as philosophically twisted as the CPAC gathering. Perhaps not all is lost, since CPAC is the home of the true believers, the rock-solid conservatives for whom Ronald Reagan is like Mecca, and for whom some of Bush's attempts to kiss business's butt rankle. According to a Knight Ridder report:
The other day, that GOP fault line ruptured.
It happened when Tom Tancredo showed up at the CPAC event. The scourge of illegal immigrants, he's a Colorado congressman who flaunts his rebel status. In 2002, he said that if terrorists struck America after slipping across the unsecured border, "the blood of the people killed will be on this administration" - a remark that (as Tancredo tells it) prompted Bush strategist Karl Rove to ring him up, chew him out, and call him a "traitor."
Tancredo was the CPAC rock star. He triggered howls of appreciation when he said that, on immigration, "it is the president, not Tom Tancredo, who is out of step with his party." Then he took on the Bush guest-worker plan and said: "It is the employer community which sees profits from cheap labor, and the hell with the (impact on) the American taxpayer. The conservative movement can either be the voice of principle ... or it can be the voice of the Chamber of Commerce, but it cannot be both." More howls ensued.
But Randel Johnson wasn't howling. A senior U.S. Chamber of Commerce official, he took the podium shortly thereafter, looking as if he'd just been punched in an alley.
"Look," he said, "I'm a lifetime Republican, I worked in the Reagan administration, I worked on (Capitol) Hill when the Republicans took over in 1994. Immigration is a tough issue for some of us, like me, and we hate to see a split like this in the Republican Party." Thousands sat in silence, but he plowed on: "We in the business community provide millions of jobs, and all of a sudden, we become the bad guy in this debate." More silence. Bush's party could have problems in November unless these factions are in sync.
Don't you just love it when people like Randel Johnson petulantly say ""We in the business community provide millions of jobs, and all of a sudden, we become the bad guy in this debate"??
See, they only provide those jobs so us poor schlubs have something to do with ourselves all day long.
Let's see, who else could make the exact same statement? The leaders of China, speaking tot heir slave and near-slave laborers. Those swell folks in the Mariannas who hired Abramoff to lobby DeLay to keep American labor laws from applying to that US Territory, where Asian labor was lured and enslaved. The great American business barons of the 19th and early 20th century, who locked workers into the workplace, paid them next to nothing, and didn't bat an eye when the workers dropped dead from exhaustion and disease. But I digress.
CPAC. CPAC splinter. Splinter, CPAC, splinter.