At Conservative Political Action Conference: Torture In, Palin Out
Thursday began day one of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC. For more than 3 decades, it has been the premier gathering of conservatives.
At a fancy Marriot in northwest Washington, this year’s conference is the largest ever. Ten thousand activists are registered to attend. Although many of the participants are in college, the increase in popularity can be attributed to the creation of the Tea Party movement.
New Jersey resident John Meeks has attended CPAC since 2000. He says the Tea Party participants tend to be “conservatives… who weren’t paying attention before.”
They are paying attention now. And they are angry with the Democrats for spending and government expanding, but they are upset about foreign policy. Specifically, they are disgruntled with Obama’s attempt to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and to stop torturing during interrogations.
While Marco Rubio, Tea Party candidate for US Senate in Florida, was speaking to the audience about capturing terrorists, a member of the audience yelled out “waterboard them.” The crowd responded with laughter and applause. Rubio did not admonish or disagree.
The loudest applause came after Rubio said they should be tried “in front of a military tribunal at Guantanamo.” The crowd jumped on their feet and cheered.
This has some longtime conservatives from joining in. Mickey Edwards, one of the founders of the modern conservative movement, wrote in the Atlantic that he doesn’t agree with this new wave of “conservatives.”
Here is part of what he wrote:
“Stop at CPAC today and you will find rooms full of ardent, zealous, fervent young men and women who believe the government should be allowed to torture (we condemned people at Nuremberg for doing that), who believe the government should be able to lock people up without charges and hold them indefinitely (something Henry VIII agreed was a proper exercise of government authority). Who believe the government should be able to read a citizen’s mail and listen in on a citizen’s phone calls, all without a warrant (the Constitution of course prohibits searches without a warrant, but nobody cares less about the Constitution than some of today’s ersatz conservatives).”
Republican politicians attempted to appease these activists. House Republican Leader John Boehner said the Republican party should not “co-opt” the Tea Party movement, and the party will continue to “listen.”
One conservative leader noticeably absent is Sarah Palin. That’s not because she supports closing Guantanamo or ending torture. Palin is absent because she requests around $100,000 per speaking engagement. Speakers at CPAC speak for free.
Jameson Campaigne, board member of the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on the CPAC conference, says Palin needs to “give back.” Because of her refusal to attend a CPAC conference, he said, “She hasn’t really proved to the conservative movement yet that she’s one of us.”
But plenty of conservatives jumped at the opportunity. The closing speaker will be right-wing commentator Glenn Beck. Media mogul Andrew Breitbart and his young protege Hannah Giles who dressed up as a prostitute during a sting operation against ACORN.
Read Mickey Edwards entire article here.