The CPAC Microcosm of and Petri Dish for Conservatism in America?
Guest Blogger Dan Borchers' No Holds Barred Finale --- From the 'Excellent' to the 'Honored' to the 'Appalling' to the 'Intolerably Hypocritical'?
By Daniel Borchers on 2/15/2006, 1:03am PT  

Guest Blogged by Special BRAD BLOG CPAC Correspondent Daniel Borchers


EDITOR'S NOTE: After an unexpected delay due to breaking news over the last three days?We now conclude Dan Borchers reports from the "Conservative Political Action Conference" (CPAC) held last weekend in D.C.

Borchers --- of Citizens for Principled Conservatism, Brother Watch & Coulter Watch --- covered the nation's largest annual "Conservative" gathering exclusively for The BRAD BLOG. As it does each year, the conference featured the biggest of the Rightwing wigs (see article below for a list). Nothing that we know of on the Left comes close.

Borchers' previous reports on DAY 1 and DAY 2 offered an insider's view of photos, sounds, video and Ann Coulter's "ragheads" speech. His final dispatch follows, covering the hopeful, the still-to-be-determined and, yes, the dangerous American disgrace that is Ann Coulter as revealed yet again by this year's CPAC.

Borchers' coverage here (and even the VR "ImpeachMobile" in the bargain!) was picked up in a feature story on Monday by the Hard Rightwing Cybercast "News" Service.

For his efforts we are grateful and proud to bestow upon Dan the coveted and too-rarely-awarded BRAD BLOG "Intellectually Honest Conservative Award!" Well done, sir! And thank you?

THE GOOD --- Reaching the Next Generation?

CPAC is over, but its legacy will endure.

Perhaps the most startling perennial phenomenon at CPAC is the involvement of perhaps several thousand college students. This is a natural outgrowth of a concerted effort to court America's youth. Dynamic speakers engage inquiring minds. Indeed, a youth-oriented subculture vies with establishment conservatism for attention. New technologies combine with proven timeless teaching techniques.

I attended four excellent workshops at this conference. All of those I attended were ideologically-neutral, teaching sound methodologies and universal rules relevant to their subject.

The Leadership Institute offered a series of workshops: Grassroots Communications (4 hours), Effective Television Techniques (2 hours), Blogging (2 hours), Public Speaking (4 hours) and Campus Leadership Program Training (4 hours).

Americans for Technology Leadership provided a workshop on Cyber Security: Taking Back the Net. A workshop on State Taxes and How to Beat the Left was sponsored by FreedomWorks.

The Claire Boothe Luce Policy Institute offered a Women and Career Development Workshop, a V-Day Unveiled Leadership Training Seminar and a Woman of the Year and National Mentoring Lunch.

THE CONFUSED ? Broadening Tent, Deepening Perspectives?

As Americans enter another election cycle, the Conservative Movement is engaging in a great internal debate over its identity and its goals.

The conservative tent is far broader than liberals believe, with a number or organizations and activist groups in opposition to each other ? either advocating or opposing the Iraq War, drug legalization, supply-side economics, a guest-worker program, or wiretapping and other homeland security measures.

Each year, CPAC has a distinctive flavor. In 2000, exuberance reigned as several presidential candidates vied for support amidst a general anti-Clinton/Gore hatred permeated the atmosphere. In 2002, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hysteria invaded many aspects of the conference. In 2006, ideological diversity was far greater than in previous years (although the CPAC tent has always been fairly broad in my own experience).

Though the majority of attendees are white, racial and cultural diversity is apparent. The Republican national Hispanic Assembly, the National Black Republican Association and Muslims for Bush are representative of the growing racial and cultural mixture within the Conservative Movement.

Although the tone and emphasis varies each year, some things never change. Members of all three branches of government were at home to contend with their issues of the day.

Conference highlights included appearances by Bush Administration speakers, such as Vice President Dick Cheney (ed note: whose motorcade drove by the VR "ImpeachMobile" at CPAC on Thursday night, just two days before he would then shoot a man in the face.), Ken Melhman (RNC Chairman), Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and Rod Christie (former aide to Pres. Bush).

Senators included John Cornyn (TX), Mitch McConnell (KT), Rick Santorum (PA), George Allen (VA), Sam Brownback (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Bill Frist (TN), Jim DeMint (SC), St. Sen. John Barrasso (WY) and St. Sen. Alex Mooney (MD).

Congressman included Tom Tancredo (CO), J.D. Hayworth (AZ), Sam Johnson (TX), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Todd Tiahrt (KS) and Trent Franks (AZ).

Other notables included Attorney General Jon Bruning (NB), Gov. Rick Perry (TX), Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), James Gilmore III (VA), Newt Gingrich (GA), Dick Armey (TX), Bob Barr (GA), Judge Charles Pickering (MS) and Judge Janice Law (TX).

Book signings are favorite events at CPAC and this year's conference was replete with a plethora of book signings by elected officials (J.D. Hayworth, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich), members of the media (Fred Barnes, Tony Blankley, Howie Carr, Ann Coulter, John Fund, Michelle Malkin, Oliver North, Glenn Reynolds, Ben Shapiro and Martha Zoller) and judges (Janice Law and Charles Pickering). Other notables putting pen to title page included Ilan Berman, Tom Bethel, Frank Gaffney, John Hagee, Paul Kengor, Phil Kiver, Joel Miller, Richard Miniter, Wayne Perryman, Alan Skorski, J. Foret Sharpe, Mark Smith and Mike Wiley.

CPAC revels in hosting the largest annual gathering of conservatives and certainly succeeds in attracting the crem-de-la-crem of conservative celebrities and organizations.

THE WARPED --- Endorsement of Extremism?

Despite its boast of being the Grand Old Party of Lincoln and Reagan, the CPAC organizations and principle organizations cater to extremism in the form of their exaltation of Ann Coulter.

CPAC is sponsored by the American Conservative Union, Human Events and Young America's Foundation. However, those organizations are setting a horrible example for those very impressionable young minds they court. The hypocrisy of these organizations is appalling. They effectively endorse extremism through their perennial exhibition of Coulter as one of their premiere attractions. Indeed, Coulter's events are always the talk of the Conference.

Human Events employs polemicist Coulter as their "legislative correspondent." Young America's Foundation and the Claire Boothe Luce Policy Institute all vigorously promote Coulter as their most-sought-after speaker (at a $30,000 honorarium). And they all either ignore or justify Coulter's most extreme expressions.

This year, Human Events sanitized Coulter's outlandish speech, ignoring her most controversial comments.

"Ann Coulter, Human Events legislative correspondent, was definitely Friday's biggest draw at CPAC 2006. From the get-go the conservative columnist had the crowd cheering and was frequently interrupted by applause."

No apologies for or condemnation of her racist remarks, her dream of assassinating President Clinton or her wish that five Supreme Court Justices be bombed. No apologies. No regrets. No integrity, No principles. (ed note: Borchers' earlier coverage of that speech, including the audio, is here.)

Overall, the CPAC conference is a marvelous venue for inspiring grassroots activism, exchanging ideas and networking. Conservatives and libertarians are free to promote those ideas, policies and causes dear to one's heart. Even the ACLU found its voice at CPAC.

But the tolerance of extremism ? by the very individuals and groups who condemn those self-same expressions of extremism on the Left ? is intolerable and hypocritical. Their refusal to refute Coulter's extremist views and her elimination rhetoric threatens America's "open society" and "public square" even as it diminishes the participatory citizenship of all Americans.

My press kit, distributed at CPAC 2002, asked pertinent questions [PDF]:

My fellow conservatives, it all comes down to a question of faith. Do we believe in Conservatism? Do we believe that character truly matters, that truth is absolute and a prerequisite for any dialogue, that compassion isn't just an emotion but an action, that being a moral people is more important than pursuing an agenda?

Do we believe? Or is our faith an empty tomb? Is the heart of Conservatism hollow? Or are we resolved to elevate, and not assassinate? To inspire, and not denigrate? To love, and not hate? (A Call for Character)

Four years later, despite Coulter's crazy conduct at CPAC, the CPAC organizers continue to sponsor her divisive and destructive hate speech ? tarnishing all of the good which is accomplished at CPAC.

When will they ever learn?

Cheers,

Dan Borchers