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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 14, 2011

 
Back In Business

by digby

Looks like CPAC was the usual charming gathering even without Jim DeMint:

President Barack Obama? Weak, a socialist and a liar. Liberals? Monsters and a cancer. Former Vice President Dick Cheney? Called a war criminal, "murdering scum" and a draft dodger — by people in his own party.

Just a month after the Arizona shooting rampage led to bipartisan calls for toned-down political discourse, incivility suffused the year's largest gathering of conservatives. Just like at most partisan get-togethers on either end of the ideological spectrum.

The brief political time out is over — if it ever really existed.

"All right, sit down and shut up," Cheney said after being greeted by hecklers when he made a surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Supporters shouted down the insults with a "U.S.A." chant, and a visibly annoyed Cheney brushed off the outbursts.

Such incivility didn't overwhelm the conference, which is a rite of passage for presidential contenders, right-leaning media personalities and grass-roots activists. But it kept popping up throughout the three-day affair in speeches by names big and not so big.

That's not to say liberals would have been any more civil at their own event, and the tone at the conservative gathering was arguably no different from what it's been in the past. After all, it's what these events are for.

On both the left and the right, hard-core ideologues are the ones who attend such conferences, and agendas are set with that audience in mind. Verbal bomb-throwing is the norm from speakers who serve up political red meat to highly partisan crowds that devour it.


You know, it's fun to make these equivalences, and I'm sure that Jon Stewart will dutifully dredge up a couple of examples of Code Pink yelling something at Donald Rumsfeld to prove that liberals are just as bad. And liberals will dutifully pull back and be more polite while conservatives will laugh and laugh and laugh. But it's bullshit.

The truth is that this year's CPAC seems to have been a bit more sedate at least in terms of their usual derogatory, red meat. In the past, they featured adorable stuff like this:

...Sheldon, a plump, pink man with pale blue eyes, wasn't out celebrating the Bush presidency. Instead, the man who has pledged "open warfare" against all things gay, stood in the exhibitors hall before a makeshift carnival game called "Tip a Troll," in which players were invited to throw gray beanbags at toy trolls with the heads of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle, or trolls holding signs saying, "The Homosexual Agenda," "Roe V. Wade" and "The Liberal Media."

Sheldon, like the rest of the right, isn't letting success distract from a monomaniacal focus on its foes. Indeed, the overwhelming message at CPAC was that it's time to toughen up.

At a Thursday seminar titled "2002 and Beyond: Are Liberals an Endangered Species?" Paul Rodriguez, managing editor of the conservative magazine Insight, warned that the liberal beast wouldn't be vanquished until conservatives learn to be merciless. "One thing Democrats have long known how to do is play hardball," he intoned, urging Republicans to adopt more "bare-knuckle" tactics. The next day, Frank Gaffney, assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, told a rapt crowd about the "well-financed media campaign against the Bush White House."

The rise of Fox News and talk radio has done little to assuage right-wing resentment toward the supposedly liberal media. "It's amazing conservatives ever win any victories at all with the left's hegemonic domination of the media," Coulter told her listeners. She spent most of her talk mocking antiwar arguments ("Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil") and antiwar protesters. "Scott Ritter, that's a liberal for you," began one bit. "Cleans up, cuts his hair and it turns out that it's to get underage girls." Bada-BOOM.

For speakers like Coulter, who performs her act as a kind of stand-up routine, much of this stuff just seems like cynical hyperbole, but among the rank and file, liberal-phobia is real and deep. Virgil Beato, a 25-year-old graduate student at American University, spoke of the "mean-spiritedness" of the left, much of which he'd learned about from David Horowitz (the former Salon columnist). "David Horowitz knows how the left thinks," Beato proclaimed. "He's trying to send out the message that sometimes we need to play hardball. That's the message we're getting from here."
And these items they sold at the 2008 CPAC were just delightful. Or the one a couple of years earlier that featured bumper stickers that said "Happiness is Hillary's face on a milk carton".
I defy anyone to point out anything like that being sold at a Netroots Nation convention or any other left wing gathering. Certainly, I've never seen Democratic politicians saying stuff like they say at CPAC. It's all we can do to get them to show they have a pulse.

Let's face it, lefties may get intemperate and hurl some tough rhetoric from time to time but it's the wingnuts who make a profit at it. And just like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, it's the nasty derisive junk like this that flies off the shelves:




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