WATCH: Right-Wingers Heckle and Boo Rumsfeld & Cheney at CPAC
Video appears at the end of this post.
One of the delights of covering the Conservative Political Action Conference in the New Media Age is reading the tweets of right-wingers appalled at the bad behavior of the libertarians with whom they are supposed to be in coalition. At issue is the merciless booing and heckling endured by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Vice President Dick Cheney as the latter presented the former with CPAC's "Defender of the Constitution" award. No, you truly cannot make this stuff up.
I'll spare you a disquisition on the irony of Rummy as a defender of the constitution, lauded as such by Darth Vader. You know all about the torture, all about the war waged on false pretenses, so let's skip to the good parts. That would be the show put on by people assumed to be Ron Paul supporters, who have traditionally made a strong showing at CPAC.
The booing began before Rummy event took the stage, when David Keene, founder of the American Conservative Union, the organization that produces CPAC, announced Rumsfeld's award, together with Brad O'Leary, author of The Audacity of Deceit, a book presumably about his love for President Barack Obama. The booing was so bad that it was almost impossible to hear O'Leary comparing Rummy to James Monroe.
But when Cheney was announced as the surprise guest who would actually present Rummy with the award, things got genuinely rowdy. "Draft-dodger," one heckler shouted. "Show me the shekels," another yelled, which sounded like an anti-Semitic twist on the theme." I head the shout but didn't see who it came from; Slate's David Weigel tweeted that the guy was hauled out of the hall by security.
"Where's Bin Laden?" somebody hollered.
Weigel tweeted that one Ron Paul supporter, anti-war veteran Nathan Cox, was in the room for the Rumsfeld award "because I feel like yelling something."
Cheney, looking wan and lean, took it in stride. I couldn't hear very clearly with all the shouting and the bad sound in the media balcony overlooking the main ballroom, but it sounded like Cheney saidhis appearance was "a useful spiritual exercise."
Rumsfeld, with his customary humility, generously shared his constitutional defender award "with the men and women of the armed forces" -- you know, the ones he sent into war without enough armored vehicles, and then lied about the reason why they didn't have them.
In the wake of his drubbing by elements in the crowd, Rumsfeld also seemed to gently admonish the generic Tea Party movement for the tough room. After acknowledging the movement's recent electoral achievements, Rumsfeld said, "The task now is to be persuasive without being uncivil."
The thing that made this display so riveting is that, with better planning, it might not have happened. For some inexplicable reason, as Weigel noted, CPAC planners scheduled the Rummy award right on the heels of a speech by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., son of the perennial presidential candidate, virtually guaranteeing a sizeable contingent of appallingly behaved Paulites in the room.
(Earlier in the afternoon, Donald Trump drew a hearty round of boos for saying that Ron Paul could never be elected president, and then put himself forward as a more viable alternative. And Rand Paul caught some boos from hawks when he called for cutting back on military spending. They didn't like it when he said those who opposed reining in military spending are "big-government conservatives.)
Now to all the Twittery goodness, first from MelissaTweets:
If Libertarians want respect in the Conservative tent, they need to show respect. #cpac11
Ron Paul needs to denounce this bad behavior by his followers. #cpac11
Does she not know that the raison d'etre for being a young libertarian is to do whatever one damn well pleases, and call it an ideology?
But my favorite one,
which I can't quite lay my cursor on at this late hour went something like this: "If I wanted to see Cheney and Rumsfeld booed, I would go to DNC, not CPAC." comes from Aaron_RS:
If I wanted to hear anti war invective spewed against Cheney and Rumsfeld, I would go to the DNC. #CPAC11
Before the constitution-defending-by-torturers-and-warmongers segment concluded, Keene announced that Rumsfeld would headline a CPAC Alaskan cruise. If only Cheney would join him, it could double as a drill-out-the-wilderness ANWAR scouting mission.
Addie will be tweeting throughout the CPAC conference. Follow herhere.