Rightwing Fringe Welcome at Conservative Confab, Gay Republicans Not So Much

The bizarre John Birch Society has slowly been welcomed into the fold as conservatives have become more extreme.

In February, the Conservative Political Action Conference will get underway in D.C., and because CPAC has become the right-wing event of the year, the conservative movement's heavy hitters are anxious to be a part of it.

But let's note who, exactly, has become part of the conservative movement. For example, the 2010 CPAC gathering will be co-sponsored by the hyper-conservative John Birch Society. While JBS was, not too long ago, considered far too ridiculous for the American mainstream -- even Republicans considered Birchers a political pariah -- the bizarre group has slowly been welcomed into the fold as conservatives have become more extreme.

When Glenn Beck embraced the Birchers two years ago, Alex Koppelman reminded us, "The JBS is, after all, the group that believed fluoridated drinking water was a Communist mind-control plot. Oh, and its founder, Robert Welch, once accused Dwight Eisenhower -- and no, we are not kidding -- of being 'a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy.'"

And now the John Birch Society is co-sponsoring CPAC. When I talk about radicalism being mainstreamed by the right, this is what I'm talking about.


Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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