One of the more interesting dynamics of the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend in D.C. has been how eager conservatives have been to cleanse themselves of the Bush years and how timid they've been in going after John McCain. Matt Cooper at Talking Points Memo noticed this on Friday, and I picked up on it as well.
Last year, when he took the CPAC stage as -- for the first time -- the defacto Republican candidate, the crowd nearly booed McCain off the podium. This year, after he fell short in the general election, the only punches thrown at the Arizona Republican have been thrown largely in private.
On Saturday, that changed. Ann Coulter, in an otherwise mild performance (one filled with political jokes seemingly recycled from the campaign), lambasted McCain for his lameness, equating him to longtime Washington scribe Helen Thomas taking on a heavyweight boxing champion.
"In a poll taken in Germany during the election I showed that 80 percent of the German people supported Obama over McCain. And we all know how infallible the Germans are at picking great leaders," said the brash conservative author. "Meanwhile, we were running John McCain. It is amazing he lost by only seven points rather than 75. Obama beating McCain is the equivalent of George Foreman, in his prime, beating Helen Thomas in the 12th round by technical knockout. Which, come to think of, I wouldn't mind seeing."
The line, a rather mild ribbing of the Senator but a ribbing nonetheless, earned a spattering of applause from the crowd. Far more popular, in fact, was Coulter's defense of Bush (and, by extension Obama), which came after an attendee asked her to asses the president's national security policies.
"Actually on national security, I think we all ought to be gloating because Obambi seems to be continuing the policies of George Bush," said Coulter. "It is MoveOn.org, Daily Kos, Code Pink, and the New York Times who ought to be weeping, weeping. Apparently Obama got into offce and got the national security briefing and thought, 'I can't let the New York Times run national security.' So I think we do owe a thank you to George Bush for keeping us so safe, and we ought to acknowledge that."