I just flew back from Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, and boy are my arms tired of the old narrative. I was on a panel with James O’Keefe and Sonnie Johnson called “Changing the Narrative,” and we all talked about how dangerous it is for the GOP to remain stuck in the past.
The speakers at this conference bore impressive pedigrees and included Ann Coulter, Ted Cruz, Pamela Gellar, Dr. Benjamin Carson, Bill Whittle, Robert Spencer, and conference founder David Horowitz. Just as New York City is an island of lunacy surrounded by hundreds of miles of reality, walking around The Breakers Palm Beach Hotel felt like a wee bit of sanity in a world gone mad.
While trying to register, I strolled by Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer, who was sitting in the lobby checking his email. After a brief introduction, I asked some totally predictable questions like, “Do you ever think of quitting?” and “Do you have bulletproof windows?”
“If I stopped doing what I do, I wouldn’t suddenly become immortal,” he replied.
I told him of a recent revelation where I realized it’s not a choice between “Do they hate us because they’re inbred?” or “Do they hate us because of Israel?”
It’s both. They hate us because they’re inbred and also because of Israel.
He disagreed and said it was neither. “It’s because the book says to kill us and they think God wrote the book.” We then talked about seemingly random attacks on Vancouver and Glasgow and how little our foreign policy in Israel has to do with terrorism in the Philippines right now. The conversation ended with both of us agreeing that nobody kills more Muslims than Muslims do.
This is fun. I’ve gone from an environment where my views get me kicked out of dinner parties to a place where we’re all invited to a luncheon with Ann Coulter. People still disagree, but this environment provides stimulating discussion instead of shrill finger-pointing. If only Breitbart were alive to see this. Charles, James, Sonnie, “Changing the Narrative” panel organizer Tracy L. Connors, and me rushed to the Venetian Ballroom to hear Coulter speak.
I’ve heard Christopher Hitchens described as “freakishly good” at debates. Ann’s the same way. From the moment she strides up to the podium, the audience is captivated. They may not agree with her, but she’s obviously done her homework and it behooves her opponents to hear her out if they don’t want to make fools of themselves. Coulter had many points to cover in an hour-long talk that felt like five minutes. She said Obamacare is a mess and we need to kick the Democrats when they’re down. She also made it clear that we shouldn’t assume Obamacare will hang itself. “Government incompetence doesn’t go away,” she warned. “Look at the public school system.” (I’m paraphrasing, but all speeches from the event will be on the Freedom Center site shortly.) Coulter peppered brilliant jokes with dense political discourse. She spoke of immigration and lamented our policy of choosing brothers-in-law above skilled workers. “We’ve done enough for everyone else,” she said (again paraphrasing). “It’s time for America to have a little ‘me’ time.”
Ann listed exactly what combination of states Republicans would need to take over the White House and did so without looking at her notes. She has the good looks of a woman with a 90 IQ but talks with the intelligence of a hideous nerd. She ended with some contempt for libertarians, which I think is a mistake. Her new book is called Never Trust a Liberal Over 3—Especially a Republican, and if it’s about ostracizing everyone who doesn’t adhere to paleoconservative values I strongly disagree (though I’d probably go to the gym before challenging her on it). We need Republican liberals like me. In fact, that’s what my talk was about.
The whole event was very stuffy. Our posse was the Island of Misfit Toys, and we made our way to the Ponce de Leon room for our “Changing the Narrative” panel. James O’Keefe showcased his most recent videos that make clear Obamacare’s real agenda is increasing the size of government, registering more Democrats, and scamming the system.
Sonnie Johnson was a breath of fresh air. Instead of buttoning up and acting like a well-behaved Negro, she delivered a balls-out sermon arguing that the ghetto had an innate libertarian nature. She quoted Jay-Z lyrics as proof that rap was all about capitalism. She said her crackhead mother was living proof the welfare system does more harm than good. She said she knows firsthand what big government does to the poor. I’ve never seen anything like it and highly recommend checking her out.
“I’m a liberal,” I explained to a banquet hall full of mostly old-timers. I then explained that I’m against sexism so I speak out against Islam. I’m against homophobia so I mock countries such as Uganda that make it illegal. I’m against racism so I criticize institutions that make it worse for blacks such as the welfare state and the promotion of single motherhood. I’m also for human rights which is why, like 51% of women in America, I’m pro-life. “Unfortunately,” I added, “liberals changed the rules and abandoned all these fights when they became unfashionable.”
I then reiterated what everyone on the panel seemed to agree on. One, the right needs to get over gay marriage. Rush Limbaugh admits that battle has been lost and even Bill O’Reilly says gay-marriage proponents have a good argument. Let’s let it go. Us straights are not exactly setting a great example when it comes to the tradition. Two, the drug war is another lost cause. To ostracize libertarians because they smoke pot is to let the GOP die of old age. No matter how you feel about the ethical use of legal drugs such as Adderall and illegal drugs such as speed (they’re both the same thing, by the way), it’s time to wave the white flag. Third, though tradition has many wonderful things worth fighting for, including everything from family values to wearing suits, let’s stop bitching about petty things like rap music. When old conservatives talk about music I’m bored by their love of Motown and 60s soul. It’s Sambo music. In fact, when Curtis Mayfield had the courage to stop singing doo-wop and start his own label, several radio stations banned him.
I ended my talk with optimism. I told them I work with young people who weren’t brainwashed by the same old liberal-arts tropes. They grew up in the information age and refuse to believe everything is racist. I told them about artists and musicians who confessed they secretly read libertarian sites and were ready to come out of the non-liberal closet.
This is when things got weird. I told them the biggest problem with older conservatives is they’re too pessimistic and have given up. This statement got a roar of applause. Apparently old people are just as sick of the curmudgeons. In the end, how you feel about the GOP’s future is irrelevant. The old ways aren’t working, so you can get with the program or die of old age. It’s up to you.
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