February 22, 2010
CPAC's Odd EndingBy C. Edmund Wright
What a Saturday at CPAC!
Ron Paul out-polled Sarah Palin almost five to one, and keynoter Glenn Beck got huge ovations as he disavowed any conservative ascendancy within the Republican Party.
So someone please tell me -- just what the heck happened to a convention that was off to such a wonderful conservative start? Where is the momentum from the Marco Rubio speech and the Dick Cheney "Obama is a one-term president" moment?
Perhaps David Keene of the American Conservative Union will be a bit more careful when picking keynote speakers from now on. What happened was predictable, given that the man he picked uses a daily TV show to make it clear that he blames Republicans, Democrats, the left and the right, and politics in general all equally for America's woes.
While Beck has a huge audience, some of these thoughts are not exactly the consensus among American conservatives. They are not consistent with reality, either. Besides, CPAC stands for Conservative Political Action Committee.
Oh, I realize that in a ballroom jammed with a disproportionate share of Paul-supporters and Beck groupies, Keene is likely not aware of how conservatives across the country viewed this soiree. Not yet. I am also not swayed by the audience emotion. The keynote speaker had a lot to do with who did -- and did not -- show up.
To be fair, Glenn Beck has done a fantastic job exposing Marxists and Maoists in the Obama administration. He was the lead dog in the pack that exposed Van Jones as an avowed communist in Obama's cabinet, thereby ending his career as Green Jobs Czar. Beck and his "Anita Dunn -- call me" routine was the best weapon FOX News Channel had in the White House's "war on FOX News." It was hilarious and illustrative.
He does all of this fabulously well for fifty minutes each day -- after which he oddly and predictably makes sure that everyone -- including Bill O'Reilly -- realizes he holds both parties and both ideologies equally culpable for everything. Yes, check his transcripts. He was making fun of "the right" and "the left" just this past week on his TV show.
We must be fair-minded you know, for the sake of the folks. I'm just sayin...
In all fairness, Beck did have some excellent moments of pure and coherent conservatism that brought down the house at CPAC on Saturday night. His use of history and his own personal experiences gave life to his contentions. His analogy to every-kid-gets-a-trophy leagues and Obama's Nobel Prize was funny and effective. He was spot-on when he demonstrated how Lady Liberty's message has been taken out of context by the left.
And his jabs at Teddy Roosevelt (and by extension, John McCain) were deserved. Certainly there is room for his tweaking of the Bush administration and the Republican congresses of 2002-2006. But this is not 2002 or 2006 -- and we are a century removed from the Bull Moose Party days.
So I just have to ask: What Republican Party has Beck been watching the past year?
The following lines from his CPAC address -- which are the lines the media have been spreading as his theme -- are simply baffling:
Huh? Is he serious?
Has he not heard about Marco Rubio? Rubio is now up 12 points on Charlie Crist among GOP voters. That sounds to me like a lot of Florida Republicans admit there's a problem.
What about Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey? The lesson he is teaching the New Jersey legislature this week about government spending could have come straight off of Beck's blackboard. Beck should be proud of this. Why is he ignoring it?
Has he not heard about J.D. Hayworth challenging John McCain in the Arizona primary? Say what you will about J.D., but the idea that a thirty-year incumbent is facing a serious primary challenge indicates that some Republicans are admitting that they have a problem.
Beck said in his speech that Rush Limbaugh is one of his heroes. Rush is a Republican, by the way. He has been onto Republican problems longer than Beck has. Rush is a master of succinct brilliance -- his latest gem being "the era of McCain is over!"
Ann Coulter is a Republican, and she has said several times lately that "while there are plenty of bad Republicans, there are no good Democrats." I think she gets it. Mark Levin is also a Republican, and for years he has used the term "Re-pube-icks" to describe the very Republicans Beck dislikes. Levin knows history pretty well too.
Then, of course, there is Sarah Palin. For months, including in her endorsement of Doug Hoffman, she has talked the need for the party to return to the principles of Beck's other hero, Ronald Reagan. Palin, you might remember, is a Republican.
And it seems to me that zero Republicans in the Senate and only one Republican in the House voted for Obamacare. That's hardly equally guilty in my opinion.
And let's not forget the tea parties. There's a lot of anger there at Republicans, but much of it is from Republicans who have had their "come-to-Jesus" moment, apparently.
I could go on. This is bewildering.
It is not really clear what Beck is looking for in the way of evidence, but I submit that if he is waiting for the likes of Steve Schmidt and David Brooks to give public mea culpas, then he will wait a long time. Moreover, it is irrelevant.
A study of history shows that even under Reagan, there were hold-outs. They included his own vice president. And speaking of vice presidents who did not necessarily agree with their Presidents, Beck also said the following Saturday night:
To me, this was a gratuitous shot at a man who never gave the impression he was behind Bush's spending policies. And Cheney is doing more than just "not sucking as much as the other side" when it comes to security. He and his daughter are absolutely skewering the Obama administration on Iraq and the War on Terror. He has kicked the Bush "new tone" to the curb. For someone who could easily retire, Cheney is doing a lot to further conservatism. He too is a Republican.
Meanwhile, Beck mentioned more about Woodrow Wilson than he did Barack Obama. He talked more about the depressions of the first forty years of the 20th century than he did our current situation. I am not sure he even mentioned the names Reid or Pelosi, and he was more concerned about Teddy than Franklin Roosevelt.
Whatever it is that is driving Beck to ignore a conservative ascendancy within the GOP that he himself has helped stoke, it is a dangerous and counterproductive sentiment. Not only is it intellectually dishonest and separated from reality, it is perilously close to being an all-out promotion of a third party movement.
All of this would ironically unleash only more unmitigated Marxism -- er, progressivism -- in our government than what exists today. That would be a sad and devastating irony indeed. We cannot stop this Marxist march without invoking the names of Reid and Pelosi. Slamming Woodrow and Teddy won't cut it.
Beck is a passionate and talented communicator, and he really explains "the idea of America" and how it coincides with modern Reagan conservatism very well. I just wish he could bring himself to admit that there are folks in the Republican Party who agree with that -- and there always have been.
Moreover, we need that very party to stop the Obama-Reid-Pelosi leftist express regardless of how flawed they are.
One has to question what could possibly be motivating Beck to be so blind to this. It has to be willful. He is a student of history! Could there be something ulterior at work?
In his speech, Beck claimed Rush and Reagan as his heroes. As a point of fact, both have given the CPAC keynote address -- Reagan numerous times. A study of the two indicates that neither would approve of much of Beck's speech, ironically. Of course, neither would have pulled the straw for Ron Paul either.
So without a doubt, it was a very strange ending to what had been an incredible weekend at CPAC. And Mr. Beck: If I am wrong in my analysis -- call me!