A year after they were banished into the political wilderness, America’s neo-conservatives are back. To show they are serious, they held their political-fest in the very city they love to hate: Washington, DC. From February 18–20, the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) — the traditional watering hole of theRepublican Party’s lunatic fringe that is normally shunned by average republicans — attracted most of the Republican aspirants to the White House. The only notable absentee was Sarah “Barracuda” Palin, who was out hustling the book written for her. If Palin was not there to spread her pearls of wisdom about her foreign policy experience gleaned by looking through her bedroom window in Alaska at Russia, others were there to talk up conservative values.
Part of this is the direct result of President Barack Obama’s bungling in his one year in office and partly the result of aggressive tactics by the likes of such neo-conservatives as Dick Cheney, Frankenstein of the Republican Party and evil genius behind George Bush’s disastrous eight year presidency. Scott Brown’s victory in the long-held Democratic Senate seat in Massachusetts (Ted Kennedy held the seat since 1972) has further boosted conservative hopes and fortunes.
Thus, when CPAC launched its annual meeting in Washington on February 18, there was euphoria. One speaker called it “our Woodstock.” All the conservative hopefuls were there from Cheney to Mitt Romney and almost everyone in-between. Buoyed by their Massachusetts victory, everyone now seems to be a card carrying, chest thumping conservative. At the Wash-ington gathering, they demanded the presidential aspirants to prove their conservative credentials. The Tea Party crowd was also out in strength.
Cheney, who came in a wheelchair for Obama’s inauguration was a surprise appearance at the Conservative fest. When the crowd roared, “Run, Dick, run”, he exclaimed to evident delight, “Knock it off.” Cheney quipped, “A welcome like that’s almost enough to make me want to run for office, but I’m not gonna do it,” sounding uncharacteristically modest.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the defeated Republican hopeful in 2008 presidential campaign tried to refurbish his image by talking up his conservative credentials. He even defended Bush’s policies reflecting how far conservatives have come in one year. He denounced Obama’s agenda and said he had “failed” and that the Democratic majority in Congress would “soon be out the door.”
The freshly minted senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown was also there and enjoyed the adulation of the screaming crowd. “I’m the newly elected Republican senator from Massa-chusetts,” Brown said. “Let me just say that one more time. I am the Republican senator from Massachusetts.” The crowd loved it as he introduced Romney.
Other featured speakers included Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former House speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. When an old chestnut like Gingrich comes out of the woodwork, it means the Republicans have their hopes really high. Conservative talk show hosts and gun lobbyists were also out in strength.
But this year’s conservative darling was the son of Cuban immigrants, Marco Rubio, 38, who is running an outsider’s campaign in Florida for US Senate. He is being presented as the Republican equivalent of the Democrat Obama. “It’s sometimes easy to forget how special America really is,” Rubio said. “But I was raised by exiles, by people who know what it is like to lose their country, by people who have a unique perspective on why elections matter, or lack thereof, by people who clearly understand how different America is from the rest of the world… What makes America great is that there are dreams that are impossible everywhere else but are possible here.”
This son of immigrants and Cuba reject indulged in the worn out rhetoric of Islam- and Muslim bashing. “We will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” Rubio said. “We will punish their allies like Iran. We will stand with our allies like Israel. We will target and we will destroy terrorist cells and the leaders of those cells. The ones that survive, we will capture them. We will get useful information from them.”
“And then,” Rubio continued, trying to speak over the boisterous crowd, “we will bring them to justice in front of a military tribunal in Guantanamo—not a civilian courtroom in Manhattan,” taking a swipe at Obama.
Islamophobia is alive and well in the US, this so-called land of the free and home of the brave. It has been turned into a land of freaks and slaves of the warmongering corporations.