They’re probably shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here, too.
It’s tough to have sympathy for ultraconservative syndicated columnist Mona Charen (whose columns could knock an insomniac out) in the wake of the rude treatment she received from the cretins at CPAC this weekend, when she condemned Donald Trump’s disrespectful treatment towards women. Reading between the lines of her New York Times op-ed about her chilly reception at CPAC, one can sense the self-delusion at work:
I’ve been a conservative my entire life. I fell hard for William F. Buckley as a teenager and my first job was as editorial assistant at Buckley’s National Review, followed by stints writing speeches for first lady Nancy Reagan and then working for the Gipper himself. Looking toward the 1988 race, Vice President George H.W. Bush wasn’t conservative enough for me. I went to work as a speechwriter for Representative Jack Kemp in 1986.
So you’d think that the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, would be a natural fit. It once was. But on Saturday, after speaking to this year’s gathering, I had to be escorted from the premises by several guards who seemed genuinely concerned for my safety.
What happened to me at CPAC is the perfect illustration of the collective experience of a whole swath of conservatives since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. We built and organized this party — but now we’re made to feel like interlopers.
I was surprised that I was even asked to speak at CPAC. My views on Trump, Roy Moore and Steve Bannon are no secret. I knew the crowd would be hostile, and so I was tempted to pass.
But too many of us have given up the fight. We’ve let disgust and dismay lead us to withdraw while bad actors take control of the direction of our movement. I know how encouraged I feel whenever someone simply states the truth, and so I decided to accept CPAC’s invitation.
Like the Republican Party, CPAC has become heavily Trumpified. Last year, they invited alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos (and withdrew the invitation only after lewd tapes surfaced). This year, in addition to the president and vice president, CPAC invited Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
Matt Schlapp, CPAC’s chairman, described her as a “classical liberal” on Twitter. This is utter nonsense. Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen is a member of the National Front party, and far from distancing herself from her Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic and racist grandfather, she has offered him a more full-throated endorsement than her aunt has. “I am the political heir of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” Maréchal-Le Pen told the Washington Post last year. “He was a visionary. He was right about a lot of things.”
So it has come to this: a conservative group whose worst fault in years past may have been excessive flat tax enthusiasm now opens its doors to the blood and soil nationalists of Europe.
Ask yourself: is there really that much of a difference between the repulsive racial views of Le Pen and the raw racism Buckley and Reagan expressed during their heyday? If your answer is “no,” then you’re laughing sarcastically at the horror Charen has expressed towards CPAC’s open embrace of the alt-right. Buckley and Reagan embraced the alt-right too, but Charen chose not to notice.
It’s also understandable not to have any sympathy for former RNC Chair Michael Steele, who wasn’t terribly thrilled by some remarks he heard at CPAC Friday night:
Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said on Saturday that the party has a problem with racism after a spokesman for a conservative group said Mr. Steele was chosen as chairman because he is “a black guy.”
The spokesman, Ian B. Walters, made the comment on Friday night at a dinner in Oxon Hill, Md., that was part of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
“We elected Mike Steele to be the R.N.C. chair because he’s a black guy,” said Mr. Walters, the communications director for the American Conservative Union, which organized the conference. “That was the wrong thing to do.”
There were audible gasps when Mr. Walters made the comment, Jonathan Levine, the media editor at The Wrap, who was at the dinner, said on Twitter…
In a phone interview on Saturday morning on [MSNBC host Joy] Reid’s show, Mr. Steele was asked if the Republican Party had a problem with racism.
“Yes, they do. And I think we need to be honest and acknowledge it,” Mr. Steele said. “The fact that people sit here now and say this has nothing to do with race — yeah, it does, when you stand on a podium and blatantly speak to race the way Ian did.”
The Republican Party has a racism problem, Michael? You act like you just found that out.
In 1997, after economist Glenn Loury’s public divorce from the conservative movement, Brent Staples of the Times observed:
Race-baiting, Willie Hortonizing and homophobia were part of the package from the start [of the conservative movement] and actually in fuller use in the 80’s than now. That Mr. Loury failed to detect a ”conservative party line” on race while cozying up to the Reagan Administration — and as a star on the conservative lecture circuit — is simply implausible. It seems likely that he ignored the evidence of his senses to embrace the celebrity he considered his due as one of the first black stars on the right.
Two decades later, it’s clear that Mona Charen and Michael Steele also must have ignored the evidence of their senses with regard to the racism, sexism and hypocrisy of the right. Are they willing to sever ties with the right in the wake of the covfefe at CPAC? Highly unlikely. Given a choice between demonstrating a modicum of self-respect and sticking with a movement that looks down upon them but also shares their contempt for progressives, they’ll choose the latter every time.