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All the Dysfunction, Craziness and Bigotry of the Conservative Movement Will Be on Display This Week at CPAC

This year's crop of speakers includes Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the closest thing we currently have to the re-embodiment of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
 
 
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Photo Credit: A.M. Stan

 

 

As conservatives of all stripes gather for the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Washington, D.C.’s Gaylord Resort and National Convention Center, it can be said without equivocation that the run up to the gathering has been just about as dysfunctional as the Republican Party itself.

While rebranding, rebooting, repositioning and the coalescing of the various competing factions within the Party might have been the main order of pre-CPAC business, instead tweets, email, texts, blogs, and radio rants have focused on who has or hasn’t been invited to speak, and which groups have been excluded.

A parade of the usual suspects (Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich), and wannabees (Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan) will grace the stage. NRA President David Keene and its Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre are also scheduled speakers.

The Tea Party’s influence on CPAC will be writ large, according to Devin Burghart, the vice president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. In a piece titled “Tea Party Dominates CPAC 2013 Agenda,” Burghart pointed out that CPAC13 will be dominated by Tea Party leaders, Tea Party organizations, and Tea-Party-supported politicians.

Just how Tea Party-driven is CPAC13? “Tea Party and Tea Party-aligned groups make up a sizable majority of the partners and sponsors for the event, and a big percentage of the co-sponsors and exhibitors. Four different Tea Party national networks have a presence,” Burghart reported.

Trump trumps Christie

Tea Party dominance aside, much of CPAC’s early tsouris centered on the snub of New Jersey’s extremely popular Governor Chris Christie.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (dubbed “governor ultra sound” by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for his support of intrusive and unnecessary medical procedures) has also been snubbed.

More recently, handwringing conservatives have turned their attention to the recent announcement that Donald Trump will address the conferees.

Al Cardenas, president of the American Conservative Union, the organization that has been running CPAC for all of its forty years, appeared delighted to have bagged Trump. He wrote that he looked “forward to welcoming him back to the CPAC stage,” saying that Trump's “previous CPAC appearance [in 2011] was hugely popular among our attendees and we expect it will be even more popular this year."

Not all conservatives were enamored by the Trump invite: The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin succinctly described the realty television show host as “a self-promoting and unserious person whose politics can at best be described as eclectic (at worst, unhinged birtherism with a strong dose of trade protectionism).”

There are no ‘gay conservatives’ says right-wing media critic

Even as the tide appears to be turning in favor of including gays – and even possibly supporting some of their issues -- within the conservative movement’s big tent, allowing a gay organization to participate in CPAC is still verboten, as the reliably conservative GOProud has discovered.

While more than 100 prominent conservatives recently signed on to an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid is standing firm in his anti-gay jihad. In a recent column, Kincaid supporting the exclusion of GOProud from CPAC, he argued that, “There is no such thing as a ‘gay conservative,’ unless the term ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning. But there is a homosexual movement that has its roots in Marxism and is characterized by anti-Americanism and hatred of Christian values.”

“Rather than debate whether ‘gay conservatives’ exist or ought to have prominent speaking roles, CPAC should be sponsoring a panel on the dangers of the homosexual movement and why some of its members seem prone to violence, terror, and treason,” Kincaid wrote.

Geller blames Norquist for her exclusion from CPAC

And then there’s the case of Pamela Geller, the ever-ready always misunderstood anti-Muslim provocateur that says that for the first time in years will not be attending CPAC. On The Janet Mefferd Show the Atlas Shrugs blogger accused CPAC organizers of enforcing Sharia law against her.

Geller claimed that her attacks against Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, and Suhail Khan, a former Bush political appointee and Senior Fellow for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, for “refus[ing] to address jihad, sharia, the war on freedom in the West,” as the reason for her exclusion.

Geller’s exclusion from CPAC, according to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, “represent[s] yet another development in annual conservative gathering’s frequent clashes over Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim activists like Geller, David Horowitz, Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer claim that the Muslim Brotherhood and its cohorts, namely Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, are trying to infiltrate the conservative movement.”

Islamophobes shouldn’t fret: Right Wing Watch is reporting that several reliably anti-Muslim speakers will have their moments to shine. Former congressman Allen West will speak as will Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton Apparently Fitton believes that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department “are all working together with radical Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The irrepressible Newt Gingrich, who to the delight of his Sugar Daddy, the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, “consistently attacked the Muslim community during his presidential campaign and claimed that Muslims in the US are trying to impose Sharia law,” will also perform for the faithful. As will former Pennsylvania Senator, and failed presidential candidate. Rick Santorum. Rounding out the anti-Sharia law warriors is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the closest thing we currently have to the re-embodiment of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement.

 
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