There’s a bit of a dustup among the more excitable members of the left end of the blogosphere (including the exceptionally prissy Charles Johnson) about CPAC’s choosing to accept the John Birch Society as sponsors of their upcoming conference. And the whole thing is turning out to be a bit more entertaining than anything else.
Now, if you listen to the Leftists, it’s nothing short of an apocalypse that the Global Conspiracy-Mongers of the JBS were not given the back of the hand by CPAC’s organizers, and instead allowed into the Inner Circle. But when you hear what CPAC has to say, it becomes considerably less appalling and more entertaining.
When asked about it, CPAC organizers just shrugged and mentioned that another “sponsor” of the convention is OutRight, an organization of gay conservatives. At the time that sponsorship came to light, the CPAC folks said, essentially, “hey, we’re not passing judgment. If a group wants so be a sponsor, our criteria are pretty low — they have to espouse some form of ‘conservatism’ and not be out to overthrow the government or have a history of breaking laws. If they can do that — and their check clears — we’ll let them be ‘sponsors.’ Which means we’ll put their name in the programs, let them have a table to hawk their wares, and brag about being at CPAC.”
So, when the John Birch Society came up, they said “remember what we said about the gay conservatives? Take that, cross out ‘gays’ and insert ‘John Birch Society.’ Same diff.”
So, should there have been a different response to the JBS? I don’t think so.
The Birchers, to be blunt, are nuts. They have been for decades, and they’re showing no signs of getting less nuts any time soon. Years and years ago, my local library used to get their newsletter, “The New American,” and I’d read it every now and then just for pure entertainment value — it was like a political version of “The Weekly World News,” but sincere. (Substitute “bat-shit crazy” for “Bat Boy,” and “Pat Buchanan” for “Ed Anger.” Or was it the other way around? Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference there.)
But they’re harmless nuts. They’re entertaining nuts. The public comity is far more endangered by Code Pink or ACORN or International ANSWER or the New Black Panther Party than the John Birchers.
And let’s not forget that the nutball groups out there are the most effective when they act in the shadows. They win their most passionate converts in dark corners, in private discussions, where they can pass off their lies without being challenged. The Ku Klux Klan’s most effective recruiting venue was never the public rallies, but the smoky corners of bars and secret meetings closed to the public.
If CPAC had shot down the Birchers, then they could have used that as a bragging point — how they’re being oppressed and shut out and being denied the chance to “speak truth to power.” (Hell, I suspect that was a good portion of why they first asked to be sponsors — they wanted to be denied.) Instead, they’re being treated just like everyone else, given the same rights and privileges and access to attendees as all the others — especially OutRight (whom I dearly hope is set up very, very close to the JBS table) and other groups I’m sure the JBS can not stand.
The presence of the Birchers at CPAC is not a sign of the leanings of the CPAC organizers. It’s a sign of the utter irrelevance of the Birchers. They simply aren’t important enough to worry about or even care about.
I’m in no position to speak on behalf of the CPAC organizers, but I suspect that if one of the whacko groups on the left wanted to attend, CPAC, they’d take their money, too. For example, if Media Matters For America (whose motto ought to be “fighting conservative misinformation in the media, to make room for even more liberal misinformation”) wanted a table at CPAC, I suspect the CPAC folks would cheerfully cash George Soros’ check and give them a spot. (Preferably near a cream-pie concession.)
Naturally, this being American politics, there is a similar event from the Left. But the liberal answer to CPAC doesn’t just tolerate their nuts. No, on that side it’s literally a case of the inmates running the asylum. I refer, of course, to the Yearly Kos, where the batshit crazy wing runs the whole damned event themselves, and the mainstream left bows and scrapes to get on the attendance list. In fact, in 2004, nearly all the then-candidates for the Democratic nomination for president attended.
Now there’s a thought. I wonder if I could get a cream pie concession at Yearly Kos? I could make a fortune..
Anyway, so the Birchers are gonna be at CPAC. Big whoop. If anyone is planning on attending, feel free to grab me as much free swag as they can from the Birchers. Ever since the Weekly World News folded, I’ve been lacking in my Recommended Daily Allowance of crazy, and I’ve grown seriously irony-deficient.