To the editor:
As I watched coverage of the recent Conservative Political Action Conference outside the nation’s capital, I kept thinking the theme song for the event should have been Judy Collins’ classic folk tune, “Send In The Clowns.”
The two aspiring right wing presidential candidates who topped the conference’s leadership straw poll, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, seemed not to have clue as to how to lead the country except to say, as Paul did, that America is great because of “liberty”, while Rubio said America does not need new ideas to restore its greatness because America is, well, “America.”
“Liberty” and “America.” Paul must have said “liberty” a dozen times in his speech, and Rubio did the same with the word “America”, but neither offered anything of substance as to how they would address the myriad issues confronting the nation and the world today, but both words were successful at bringing the true believers in the crowd to their feet.
Ted Cruz, the new Tea Party senator and Joseph McCarthy imitator from Texas, piggy backed on both the “America” and “liberty” themes with allegations that those who support stronger gun safety measures are guilty of undermining both.
Now, as a liberal who supports the assault weapons ban, I’ve accepted the ban is unlikely to be reinstated. But Cruz also maligned Americans who support national, standardized, background checks being done on any and everyone looking to buy a gun.
Cruz’s comments about those who support background checks were reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s campaign-killing “47 percent” remarks last year.
Like Romney insulting nearly half of all Americans, Cruz’s accusation that more than 80 percent of Americans, that is how many support universal background checks by the way, including 80 percent of actual gun owners, are deliberately undermining “liberty” and “America” is not likely to play well beyond the “New American Right” and Tea Party zealots.
The one truly adult voice at CPAC, and it was not terribly well received, was that of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush called on the GOP to become “...the face of every American...”, and for conservatives to “...move beyond divisive and extraneous issues.”
It was sound advice, but the “New American Right” and Tea Party ideologues at CPAC applauded and cheered much more loudly when Sarah Palin called on President Obama to have to go through a background check and produce his birth certificate — again.
Liberals and Democrats must be heartened by the sights and sounds that came out of CPAC, but adult Republicans, like Jeb Bush and our own Bruce Tarr, must be worried. They should be worried.
After all, there is something truly frightening about the GOP moving so far to the right that Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and even Ronald Reagan, would likely be viewed as too “liberal” by the party’s base to be the party’s nominee for president today.
Yes sir. “Send In The Clowns” would have been the ideal theme song for this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, although Joni Mitchell’s equally classic tune “Twisted” would have been an equally good choice.