Monday, February 13, 2006

This is the Voice of the GOP

Let's play the Denunciation Game

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held its annual get-together in Washington this weekend. This was not just some random, fringe event. Speakers included Vice President Dick Cheney, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, 2008 presidential hopeful Sen. George Allen, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and Newt Gingrich. This event was comprised of the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

The deranged hate-monger Ann Coulter was also a featured speaker, despite -- or because of --her history of repeatedly urging the murder of her domestic political opponents and government officials by methods ranging from terrorist attacks to poisoning to skull-bashing with baseball bats. None of those violence-advocating comments ever prevent the most prominent Republican groups from inviting her to speak, nor do they prevent the most prominent Republican politicians from appearing next to her without ever condemning her remarks.

Coulter’s appearance at the event was not, of course, a surprise; to the contrary, it was touted as an attraction beforehand by the event organizers. The remarks she made at the CPAC event have now been well-documented, and include unsurprising gems such as: "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences’" and "If we find out someone [referring to a terrorist] is going to attack the Supreme Court next week, can't we tell Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalito?"

According to one of her blogging fans in attendance, 5,000 "conservatives" reverently sat there and listened to her and did nothing to indicate disapproval. To the contrary, her urging of violence against "ragheads" specifically "prompted a boisterous ovation." RightWingNutHouse reports that her speech was "well received by the audience."

In addition to Coulter’s tawdry hate-mongering, the conference was also graced with such dignified and honorable sentiments as these:

* Bumper stickers declaring that "Happiness is Hillary's face on a milk carton";

* T-shirts proclaiming "Straight Pride";

* Appearances by members of "Exodus International," encouraging gay people to become "ex-gays."

There is an endless ritual routinely spawned in right-wing media crevices which then inevitably seeps into the establishment media, whereby Democrats are confronted with allegedly outrageous statements made by "fringe extremist" liberals, and demands are then made that every Democrat roll onto their backs, expose their bellies, and denounce those statements. To prove that they are decent human beings fit for respectable company and are part of the "mainstream," Democrats are frequently forced to opine on what are depicted as the extremist opinions expressed by Harry Belafonte, Michael Moore,, etc. etc.

For that reason, every politician attending that CPAC event – Dick Cheney, Ken Mehlman, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Bill Frist, every one of them – should be asked repeatedly wherever they go -- until they answer -- why they appeared at an event with Ann Coulter as she urged violence on "ragheads," called for terrorist attacks (again) on Supreme Court Justices, and named as her biggest moral dilemma whether she should assassinate Bill Clinton.

Tim Russert, for some oh-so-indiscernible reason, demanded that Barak Obama opine about the recent anti-Bush comments of Harry Belafonte while visiting Venezuela -- a far less important figure than the best-selling Coulter in a far less important venue than the CPAC event. Shouldn’t Russert ask every GOP guest, beginning this Sunday with Pat Roberts, whether they approve of Coulter’s remarks? You can e-mail Russert here and demand that he do so.

And the same goes for every right-wing blogger who drooled with glee and happiness at being able to participate in this event, beginning with Professor Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, who -- despite being one of the conference’s keynote speakers (so that he could hawk his upcoming book) -- has said nothing about Coulter’s speech other than to refer to her comments neutrally -- perhaps even admiringly -- as "explosive."

We ought to demand statements from each and every one of the self-proclaimed responsive, accountable, self-correcting bloggers who constantly condemn what they claim is "extremism" among Democrats. Here are just a few of the usually opinionated attackers of "fringe views" who, for some reason, we haven’t heard from at all with regard to their views of Coulter’s remarks:

* Glenn Reynolds (

* Kathryn Jean Lopez (

* Jonah Goldberg (

* John Hinderaker ( * Michelle Malkin (

* Hugh Hewitt (

Many people, I think, would be interested in their answers to these questions:

Do you approve of Coulter’s advocacy of violence against the "ragheads"?

Should her frequently expressed hopes for the death of Supreme Court Justices prevent any decent Republicans from appearing with her at events?

Are her comments within the range of what is acceptable at a conservative event?

In light of her prior comments urging violence against her political opponents and other well-documented hate-mongering, should she have been invited to speak by the CPAC at all?

Why haven’t you condemned her remarks in the past, or her remarks this weekend?

There are scores of participants in the conservative blogosphere defending her comments. It is possible to be a decent and good American while defending Coulter's speech? Should Republican politicians who appeared along with her at this event denounce her and her comments?

Republicans, aided by their mindless allies in the media, have been getting away with this nakedly hypocritical game for years. They focus extraordinary and patently excessive media attention on a stray comment here and then from Michael Moore or Harry Belafonte, and then exploit those comments over and over to suggest that they are representative of all Democrats and that all Democrats have the obligation to distance themselves forever from these figures.

All the while, they embrace and work in tandem with hate-spewing extremists from Pat Robertson to Ann Coulter, and are never held accountable for their views, are never asked to denounce them, and continue to appear side-by-side with them. It is so past time for that double standard to end. Republicans have spent the last five years courting the most extreme and radical hate precincts in our country while being allowed to present a respectable face to the rest of the country, while the media ignores their alliances with this extremism.

Ann Coulter is just one example, but it’s good to begin somewhere. Almost every leading Republican light beginning with the Vice President on downwards participated in this event. Each and every one of them should be asked about Coulter’s remarks and be forced to denounce them categorically and vow not to appear with her again.


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