"No, the arrogance that will prove problematic, ultimately, was that directed at the libertarian-leaning conservatives by the social conservatives. The message in that regard was clear: We Christians can do this alone, y'all who ain't down with J.C. best be running along. That was the message when Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute, who was on a panel to defend President Bush's proposed immigration reforms (supported by no less a conservative institution than The Wall Street Journal), was loudly booed by the anti-immigrant crowd. That was the message when a representative of the Log Cabin Republicans was booed and then asked by a student, 'You people [homosexuals, that is] already have the right to live together, you got the sex, what else do you people want?' In fact, if there was anything particularly striking about this year's CPAC, it is to just what extent Republicans have given up being the party of small government and individual liberty. Make absolutely no mistake about it: This party, among its most hard-core supporters, is not about freedom anymore. It is about foisting its members' version of morality and economic intervention on the country. It is, in other words, the mirror image of its hated enemy. Consider these statements. On the immigration panel mentioned above, Phyllis Schlafly took the hard line against immigration. 'The idea of giving any job to any willing worker is absolutely unacceptable,' Schlafly said. American workers won't and shouldn't work for the wages Mexicans and other Latin American immigrants are willing to accept, she said, and companies should be forced to pay them more. All of this met with wild applause from the audience. And so there we have the most conservative of conservatives fully buying into economic protectionism -- not to mention the minimum wage, which a past generation rightly saw as a destructive and outrageous intrusion into the free labor market. Then there was the speech by Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, another CPAC rock star. Santorum made the revealing choice of referring to marriage as "the ultimate public good" -- i.e. a product or service that the government must provide because the free market won't. Santorum, of course, doesn't just support banning gay marriage (though that's where all the energy in the so-called "pro-marriage" movement is directed), he also supports various government programs to promote the institution of marriage. But as one Log Cabiner asked, just when did the Republican Party become the party of Washington, D.C.? Just where in the Constitution is the federal government given the power or responsibility to manage citizens' family lives? To be fair, libertarian -- or classical liberal -- principles were not without representation. The Libertarian Party (ugh…) had a booth. The ACLU had a booth. The wonderful folks over at Bureaucrash had a booth. But precious little libertarianism came from the stage, and what little did was seldom well received. Now, perhaps CPAC just isn't any place for libertarians. But that, in itself, is a problem. The conservative movement should be reaching out to people who, well, just aren't as bothered by "Will & Grace" as some other people are. Conservatism can't survive by religious extremism and tax cuts alone. There needs to be something more than Ann Coulter's substanceless ranting and faux-provocative calls for a "new McCarthyism." There needs to be something more than immigration opponents comparing Mexicans to burglars stealing American jobs. There needs to be something more than treating the Log Cabin Republicans like a punchline conservatives would rather forget. But that something wasn't present at CPAC.And I'd rather not be associated with these loons who would use the federal government to control your bedroom, and to force Jesus Christ down your throat. I can do without that, thanks. I'll take my government with a dash of good stewardship, a cup of fiscal responsibility, a pint of fiscal restraint, a quart of social liberalism and hold the religiosity.
Predictably, the triumphalist Republican Party is eating its own. Craig can chuckle at the bumper sticker humor, but the Republican Party ain't what it used to be. It is now about sticking its nose in your personal business, and economic intervention. Don't believe me? How 'bout a republican to back that up?