"Conservatism" at the Crossroads: The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington Was Highlighted by Ideological Rifts between a Large Contingent of Constitutionalists and Established Neoconservative Republicans, Such as Newt Gingrich
Jasper, William F., The New American
President Barack Obama's first year in office has done much to stir broad and angry opposition to his autocratic rule and his efforts to nationalize and socialize virtually the entire American economy. However, as the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which met recently in Washington, D.C., demonstrated, the opposition is far from unified. The three-day event (February 18-20) at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel was a factious, inharmonious affair exposing the deep philosophical divisions and conflicting political goals within the loosely defined "conservative movement."
Launched in 1973 by the American Conservative Union and Young Americans for Freedom, CPAC has been the annual "premier" gathering of conservatives, featuring future, current, or past Presidents of the United States, Governors, Members of Congress, authors, academics, commentators, and celebrities. While ostensibly nonpartisan, CPAC has been essentially a Republican event, with a sprinkling of Libertarians and exiled anti-communist Democrats. That changed this year, however, owing largely to the repudiation of the GOP in the 2008 elections and the repudiation by rank-and-file conservatives of the Big Government Republican Party exemplified by George W. Bush and most of the GOP leaders in Congress. This year's conference, the largest ever, was particularly notable for the large presence of activists from Congressman Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty, an outgrowth of his energetic and highly visible 2008 presidential campaign in the Republican primaries. In addition, independent Tea Party activists, many of whom also were activated by the Ron Paul campaign, comprised a significant contingent of the more than 10,000 attendees at the CPAC confab.
The Bush-Cheney wing of the Republican Party and the neoconservative scribblers at National Review who favor a borrow-borrow/spend-spend domestic policy only slightly less lavish than the Democrats' and a foreign policy of "perpetual war for perpetual peace" have targeted both the Ron Paul supporters and Tea Party activists for ridicule and exclusion. But the CPAC organizers wisely decided that in the interest of "big tent conservatism" they should not bow to the Republican establishment's wish to bar those "unruly" elements that condemn and oppose GOP policies that are incompatible with the genuine conservative philosophy of our nation's Founders. Those policies include most especially the Republican Party's conversion on matters such as foreign interventionism, binge spending, corporate bailouts, expansion of federal Leviathan and federal police authority, and evisceration of the Bill of Rights.
The conflicting forces at play were very evident at the concluding events of the CPAC summit on Saturday evening, when the results of the annual "straw poll" of CPAC attendees were revealed, just prior to the final address by Fox TV commentator and talk-radio star Glenn Beck. The Bush-Cheney Republicans were stunned when the winner for the preferred Republican nominee for President in 2012 was announced. Rep. Ron Paul, the maverick Texas Republican, was far and away the leader, with 31 percent of the vote. A loud chorus of "boos" from Mitt Romney supporters greeted the Ron Paul victory announcement. Romney had won the three previous CPAC straw polls, but this year the former Massachusetts Governor--a pro-abortion, tax-and-spend liberal, whose RomneyCare healthcare package prefigured ObamaCare--came in a distant second, at 22 percent. GOP heartthrob and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was even further behind, at seven percent, with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty following closely at six percent, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence at five percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee tying at four percent.
The Ron Paul upset was a stinging rebuke to the Bush-Cheney-Romney-McCain-Giuliani-Gingrich "moderate" wing of the GOP, as well as to the Beltway conservative establishment that has been their enabling force. …