Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Right Meets!

Do you know what CPAC stands for, or at least what it stood for last week? It's the Conservative Political Action Conference held last week in (where else) Washington. The right-handed summit, if you will, drew thousands of participants. I'm 3,000 miles away, so I didn't make it. Too bad. I have had an interest in the political right since the days I was in high school and, like Senator Clinton at the time, interested in Barry Goldwater. I even recall writing a paper which forecast a big comeback for the GOP (which, if you don't know, stands for Grand Old Party, meaning the Republicans) in 1966. After their disaster in 1964, they could hardly have gone further DOWN, and so my prediction was correct.
But the right isn't just the Republicans. You have several subgroups involved here. There's Big Business, which pretends it isn't political at all and spreads its influence by means other than attending a convention. You won't see a massive booth with the words "BIG OIL" on a giant banner. You would see organizations which are lined up to speak up for small businesses. Their job description includes explaining to Americans once again why increasing the minimum wage would be a disaster for all even though it hasn't been changed now in TEN years. The religious right is very prominent at such affairs, reminding all that THEY won it all in '04, and no one should forget it. The single-issue crowds (no abortions, no same-sex unions, school tuition vouchers for the devout, no new or old taxes, firearms for all, abolish the IRS, mandatory prayer everywhere, no fetal stem cell research, etc.) were no doubt all in attendance.
The news coverage for the event centered on the appearance of seven or eight presidential candidates, each pledging to be true to the conservative school if elected. They took tiny pokes at each other and generally tried to make a good first impression, all except for Senator McCain, who had better things to do in Utah. According to one report, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani didn't score well in a 40 minute long ramble while Mitt Romney did well in 20 minutes, generating lots of applause and showing that he was still hitched to his FIRST wife.
So, what's wrong with this picture? For one thing, instead of bragging on what a success the Bush administration had going in its interminable second term, the crowd was most thrilled by another name - Reagan. Cheney was there, but no one whispered at the chance of a presidential run by the Dickster, as they used to. No one bragged about Gonzales' latest plan to protect Americans by snooping on them. No one talked about democracy in Afghanistan or Iraq. The crowd couldn't decide whether to applaud or gasp when toxic shocker Ann Coulter indicated that John Edwards was a "faggot", so they did both. It was a bit like they were reverting to their old role as sneering outsiders poking fun at all they weren't responsible for, instead of being heart and soul of a debacle led by a clueless former playboy who seems to be caught off guard by every piece of bad news. A few years ago at this type of event you could have gotten plenty of arguments over why Dick Cheney was a better Christian than Jimmy Carter. Now it's more like a group realization that the chance for the right to run all three constitutional branches of government in their own image is over, and that it failed.


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