Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I've been skeptical about the possibility that there'll be a serious rift between the Republican Party and the tea party movement -- their main enemies are the same, and they share a Pravda in Fox News. Sure, teabaggers like to think of themselves as independent, but it seems likely that, come November, they'll do as they're told on radio and cable: vote GOP.

However, it's clear that there's quite a bit of concern on the right about a couple of events at CPAC: the straw-poll victory by Ron Paul and the pox-on-both-your-houses speech by Glenn Beck. And so there may be a rift emerging somewhere, tea-stained or otherwise.

Here's Dave Weigel on Paul:

The news that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had won the 2010 CPAC presidential straw poll was leaked early, to soften the blow.... reporters started to write stories on Paul's surprise win, waiting for the official announcement -- and an explosion of jeering and booing in the main ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Sighing with relief, press aides for the annual conservative conference made sure that the on-site media had heard that reaction.

Just as relieved were mainstream GOP activists and traditional conservative thinkers who were pondering ways to make the party electable again....

The importance of minimizing Paul's win united conservative activists like almost nothing else that came from the three-day conference....

As for Beck's speech, we now have this radio monologue by Rush Limbaugh, enthusiastically promoted by one of the Corner folks at National Review:

... People said, "What would you have said if you were there? What would you have said?"

... I would say that the Republicans have not joined the Democrats in any of this destruction. The Republican Party has -- because of you, because you let them hear from you -- not gone bipartisan.

... I certainly would not have ignored the other team on the field, the Democrats. They're the only reason we're in this mess. The Democrat Party is the only reason we are threatened with the things we're threatened with. The Democrat Party. Solely. They own it.

...the best way to insure that Obama succeeds is to think that we need a third party.

... One year after the inauguration of Barack Obama there is a conservative ascendancy within the Republican Party, and it needs to be encouraged, not beaten down. It needs to be inspired. We need to thank them and join them....

And in case you don't get the message -- in case Beck doesn't get the message -- the transcript is accompanied on Limbaugh's site by this propaganda graphic:

I still think these guys are worried about nothing -- after all, as I pointed out a couple of days ago, the CPAC crowds cheered both George W. Bush and Bush-bashing. And as for the invasion of the Paulbots, Benjamin Sarlin of the Daily Beast noted that many of the very young, very anti-imperialist Paul fans don't really seem to care that much about this aspect of their ideology:

While Newt Ginrgich repeatedly bashed Democrats as soft on national security on the main stage Saturday, the Paul group Campaign for Liberty hosted an anti-war panel called, "You've Been Lied To: Why Real Conservatives Are Against the War on Terror." It filled a smaller ballroom to maximum capacity with a cheering, overwhelmingly young audience.

For all the differences between them, however, most attendees said they felt little tension with their fellow conservatives on a personal level.

"We respect each other's viewpoints," Travis Korson, a George Washington University student, said. "You just don't talk about things you disagree [about]."

That may be because they were too busy using CPAC as a singles bar:

For many students who see themselves as embattled conservative minorities on overwhelmingly liberal campuses, CPAC is a rare opportunity to relax and be themselves, a place where the teenager in a bow tie will be accepted with open arms, where opinions aren't shouted down -- and, of course, where singles can find like-minded hookups.

"We're looking for boyfriends," Jamie Boccanfusso, a sophomore from UPenn, said with a giggle in the exhibit hall.

"You don't even know where to start" boasted Gerald Ratchford, a cadet from the Citadel, whose uniform made him a hit with the ladies. "Some of the girls here, it's like instantly, 'Will you marry me?'"

And yet, obviously, Limbaugh and the GOP establishment are worried. And why are they worried? Beyond the fact that they don't want purists to refuse to pull the Republican lever in November, I think they fear that, when and if Republicans are in power, they might actually be held to some of their small-government promises. As Paul Krugman wrote yesterday:

... Republicans insist that the deficit must be eliminated, but they're not willing either to raise taxes or to support cuts in any major government programs. And they're not willing to participate in serious bipartisan discussions, either, because that might force them to explain their plan -- and there isn't any plan, except to regain power.

Can't have all these people in the coalition genuinely expecting -- no, demanding -- a break from business as usual from the GOP, right? They have to stay in the fold. They have to vote GOP. And then they have to content themselves with the same-old-same-old -- tax cuts, jingoism, Democrat-bashing, and no real reform. They shouldn't think they have a right to expect more.


AND: Kevin K. notes another red-on-red attack, this one by World Net Daily, which accuses Glenn Beck of being a (gasp!) global warming believer with a publicist who's a Democrat. (Funny, I don't recall any wingnut outrage when The Washington Post profiled that publicist last fall....)

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