I spent the weekend with the conservatives--the real conservatives. So conservative, only 4% of them, in an on-site straw poll, said they approved of the job Barack Obama's doing--that's in a country where, after the president's speech last week, more than 80% said they approved. These are Limbaugh-Coulter-Gingrich conservatives, some who have gathered every year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) since Ronald Reagan became president (though quite a number here were still babies then).
What should have been, logically, a desultory meeting--coming just days after the president proposed a wholesale dismantling of Reagan's small-government, anti-regulatory, tax-cutting, free-market policies--was actually quite a rousing experience.
Here were 8,500 people or so--many of them young men in high-waisted pleated chinos--in an almost blissed-out state. Such rapture had to do with Rush and Ann and Newt, a holly trinity of conservative charisma and inspiration, but I think it also had to do with a sense of martyrdom and true belief. That sense of virtue has been increased rather than dimmed by a stunning electoral defeat, the comet-like ascendancy of a revivified liberalism, and, most of all, the arguable (certainly they spent the weekend arguing it at CPAC--without opposition) end of free market capitalism. These are the people who are left behind. The last real soldiers of the revolution. If every other so-called conservative is trying to make a sort of peace with the Obama nation, to escape from the lonely island of doctrinaire policy, these guys are having none of it.
Indeed, while Obama and liberal--or, as they would have it, socialist--government came under the usual opprobrium, the real ire was reserved for the free-spending Bush administration and for that illegitimate (or at least vastly misguided) Party nominee John McCain.
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