The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gives us all a raw look at how far conservativism has devolved from the days of Ronald Reagan. Instead of continuing down the path blazed by Reagan, conservatives have chosen instead to follow the racist bigotry and worship of all things corporate started by the John Birch Society in the middle of the last century. It comes as no surprise to learn that one of the original founders of the John Birch Society was none other than Fred Koch, father of David and Charles Koch who have taken the money their father bequeathed to them to extend his legacy.
CPAC also gives us a preview of coming attractions for the presidential candidates we can expect to dominate the next Republican primary race. This year is no different and yesterday one of those contenders, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was on the stage showing us just how unpresidential a Republican candidate can be. During his appearance, Walker was asked how about the Islamic terrorist group ISIS and how prepared he’d be to confront them. His response was jaw dropping. Walker contends that, because he’s had to deal with protesters in Madison, he would know how to deal with an international terrorist group who beheads its victims and sets them on fire inside a cage while they are still alive.
I want a Commander in Chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil. We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message, not only that we’ll protect American soil but, “Do not, do not take this upon freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world.” We need that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.
This comment is horrifying on a couple of levels. First of all, it betrays a profound lack of understanding about what ISIS represents and the threat they pose. This is not a situation where we can just call in the National Guard like Walker did in Madison. They’re also not teachers and public sector workers and union members, everyday people like those who were protesting Walker’s overreach in Wisconsin.
Second, those everyday people who protested in Madison are not terrorists who gruesomely murder people on the world stage to create terror and fear and outrage in order to trigger a violent reaction. They were people exercising their rights to free speech, assembly, and to petition their government. Walker “took them on” in a most un-American way conceivable: by denying them the rights guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution.
Walker’s comments were so beyond the pale that even the über-conservative blogger and contributor to the National Review called him out on it:
That is a terrible response. First, taking on a bunch of protesters is not comparably difficult to taking on a Caliphate with sympathizers and terrorists around the globe, and saying so suggests Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups.
Secondly, it is insulting to the protesters, a group I take no pleasure in defending. The protesters in Wisconsin, so furiously angry over Walker’s reforms and disruptive to the procedures of passing laws, earned plenty of legitimate criticism. But they’re not ISIS. They’re not beheading innocent people. They’re Americans, and as much as we may find their ideas, worldview, and perspective spectacularly wrongheaded, they don’t deserve to be compared to murderous terrorists.
Walker later claimed he wasn’t comparing protesters to ISIS terrorists or ISIS terrorists to protesters with this word salad on Bloomberg News where he compares the “intensity” of dealing with an international terrorist group to unarmed, peaceful protestors at his state Capitol building:
Not, not, not by a landmine… uh, by a uh, uh, uh… a landslide out there of difference, not a Grand Canyon sized difference. My point was just, if I can handle that kind of pressure and intensity, I’m up for whatever challenge might come up if I choose to run for president.
We should all be very thankful for the CPAC convention. It gives us an unadulterated look at what our options are. And, fear not, there’s much more to come. There always is.
[CC image credit: Gage Skidmore | Wikimedia Commons]