Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cantankerous Conservatives

The collective groan that conservatives let out towards the roster of GOP presidential candidates at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) evidences how truly indulged these people are. According to the Washington Post, none of the top three contenders--Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney--appealed to the rank-and-file and the establishment members of the conservative movement. It seems that none of them are "conservative" enough for CPAC. Instead, CPAC attendees are lining up behind one-isssue extremists, as in the case of a college sophomore from Michigan quoted in the article who is supporting anti-immigrant zealot Tom Tancredo of Colorado. That conservatives cannot even get behind more mainstream candidates Giuliani and Romney, who are themselves conservative, shows how much they have been indulged by the right-wing Bush administration. While Democrats in recent elections have increasingly coalesced behind the "most electable" primary candidate, loyal Republicans have backed the most dogmatic contender.

The best result that could come of conservative obstinacy is that Republicans fracture themselves, with the conservative base driving them to nominate an extreme candidate who cannot win in a general election. More likely, in my opinion is that the party will coalesce behind John McCain--or maybe Mitt Romney--whose conservative loyalties the right-wing will continue to exact. (McCain has already shown himself willing to abandon his past statements against this wing, such as his attempt to submerge his previously-expressed opinion that Jerry Falwell is an "agent of intolerance" by speaking at Falwell's own Liberty University). Right now, McCain wants to have it both ways: he wants to be a maverick and be the Conservatives' candidate. However, if the media does its job and the Democratic opposition does their's McCain's true colors as a political opportunist will be exposed.

Glen Greenwald makes a great point over at Salon on just how blatantly hypocritical are Republicans and members of the media who point to diffuse blog commenters as representative of liberal anger and hate and ignore the bile of blatant bigot Ann Coulter, who is a prominent fixture at CPAC. In a speech made there this past Friday, she called John Edwards a "faggot" and last year at the same event directed slurs at Arabs. As Greenwald says, the media has held Democrats responsible for anyone that makes an off-color remark on a blog while summarily ignoring the hatred and bigotry expressed by the Republican party's top brass:

But that's all fine. There are much more important topics to discuss -- like the anonymous commenters at Huffington Post and the bad words said by the bloggers hired for low-level positions by the Edwards campaign. Those are matters of the gravest importance meriting the most solemn condemnation and righteous outrage from all decent people. Those HuffPost commenters have uttered terrible thoughts, and that shows the anger, venom and hatred on the left, among liberals. It is cause for great alarm -- and for headlines.

But the single most prestigious political event for conservatives of the year is a place where conservatives go to hear Democrats called faggots, Arabs called ragheads, and Supreme Court justices labeled as deserving of murder -- not by anonymous, unidentifiable blog commenters, but by one of their most popular featured speakers.

As Greenwald says, the sanctimony of conservatives against liberal bloggers is disingenuous at best if they continue to give a pass to the fulminations of their own:

This is why I wrote so extensively about the Edwards blogger "scandal" and the Cheney comments "scandal." The people feigning upset over those matters are either active participants in, or passive aiders and abetters of, a political movement that, at its very core -- not at its fringes -- knowingly and continuously embraces the most wretched and obvious bigotry and bloodthirsty authoritarianism. They love Ann Coulter -- and therefore continue to make her a venerated part of their political events -- because she provides an outlet, a venting ground, for the twisted psychological impulses and truly hateful face that drives the entire pro-Bush, right-wing spectacle.

As Greenwald says, Coulter "is the face of what the hard-core Republican Party has become."


Ben said...

Wow. Do you have a link to a transcript/clip/article from that Anne Coulter speech?

Elaine said...

This is what she said about Edwards: "I'd say something about John Edwards, but if you use the word 'faggot', you have to go to rehab." Can't yet find the speech in its entirety...

Chris said...

As someone who found himself at CPAC for work purposes and then proceeded to make fun of nearly all of the people not paid to be there for one reason or another, I have to say, your post is quite ironic. Let me inject some truth in your truthiness.

Romney ended up winning the CPAC straw poll with Giuliani in 2nd. This was a CONSERVATIVE conference, not a Republican one - there was plenty of hate for the GOP there. Even so, the "stereotypical" conservative choice, Sam Brownback, was the least appealing - and the one whose people were told "I don't think so" the most (according to my observations) when asking others to vote for him.

As for Coulter, there were audible groans coming from where I was, but that's kind of what Ann Coulter does - sort of like Michael Moore or pretty much any one on MoveOn or Democratic Underground.

Elaine said...

Ann Coulter cannot be equated with anyone else. She's in a league of her own. She makes vicious, bigoted, ad hominem attacks, and aying "that's what she does" is basically excusing slander and accepting a coarsened, debased political discourse.

Chris said...

And by stating that there "cannot" be an equivalent on the Left, you do the same. There are far too many quotes from those on the Left that are just as "slanderous" "coarsened" and "debased" as those of Coulter. But very few care what they say, because...well, that's what we expect them to say.

Elaine said...

Two points
(1) Coulter is a public figure and not some anonymous person writing on a blog. Blogs offer unfiltered responses from readers, but that does not mean that the blog agrees with all of those comments. Coulter on the other hand is actively invited to events by conservative organizations, and therefore those organizations are inextricably linked to her.
(2) I get e-mails from MoveOn everday and DU every so often and have never seen anything approximating Coulter's slander. I get aggravated with suppositions that the "fringes" on the left and right are the same, though I know it's an oft-thrown around assertion. Precisely what Greenwald is saying and what I agree with is that the two sides are different in there concerns and dialogue. Even your suggestion that I have debased political debate by asserting there cannot be an equivalent to Coulter on the left is dubious because my assertion is a far cry in substance and tone from the vituperation of Coulter.

Chris said...

By saying there can be no comparison, you have attempted to shut down a debate about even the possibility of there being an equivalent - which essentially excuses all of the disgusting rhetoric that comes from your side of the aisle.

Anyway, I pretty much take Peggy Noonan's position on this (sans the "Grandma" image - ) :

"Conservatives said they were chilled by Mr. Maher's comments, but I don't think they were. They were delighted he revealed what they believe is at the heart of modern liberalism, which is hate.

Liberals amused themselves making believe they were chilled by Ms. Coulter's remarks, but they were not. They were delighted she has revealed what they believe is at the heart of modern conservatism, which is hate."

Elaine said...

Maher is not a fixture of the liberal or Democratic convention circuit. He's made it clear--in fact, sometimes beaten a dead horse--that he's independent to libertarian, so Maher is hardly a good example. Oh, and if you want to see just about the most juvenile, pathetic, self-impugning campaign, read Glen Greenwald's synopsis about right-wingers' (NY Post, Limbaugh, Fox, etc) attempts to target Edwards masculinity: My friend pointed me to a Fox segement on this subject which featured a young conservative named Jason Mattera. The sheer irony of hearing a young man whose voice has not fully changed impugning another man's masculinity was not lost on me.

steve said...

The irony about comparing Bill Maher with Ann Coulter is that they used to date. He used to say on his show that she's a lot nicer in the sack than she is on paper. That almost triggered my gag reflex.

Elaine said...

Ewwww. Wow. Ew. No wonder he used to have her on his show All. the. time. (and perhaps still does? I don't have cable). I've never been a fan of Maher, though Republicans seem to think he's the Democrats' main man.