My response to Mickey Edwards' "Why I'm not at CPAC"

Mickey Edwards’ “Why I’m not at CPAC” (The Atlantic) is his opinion and I respect it. I think he’s wrong on many points, including what it means to be a conservative.

It was a logical question, not only since the meetings are so close at hand but also because for five years I chaired CPAC.

CPAC brings together conservative activists from every corner of America. As national chairman of the American Conservative Union, a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation, and director of the policy task forces for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, speaking at CPAC and shaping the program were high priorities on my personal agenda every year, even while serving in Congress.

But the answer to yesterday’s question was “no.” No, I’m not going to CPAC.

This is a man who, in November 2008, voted for Barack Obama for president of the United States.

I understand that George W. Bush and John McCain might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But no conservative of any stripe votes for the most liberal and inexperienced member of Congress.

The Other McCain destroyed Edwards on January 25, 2009:

Sunday, January 25, 2009
Spot the mismatch

This L.A. Times column by Mickey Edwards is like one of those elementary-school standardized test questions where you’ve got to figure out which item doesn’t belong in the list:
The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
On the one hand, his recent book strikes a libertarian argument against an “imperial presidency,” but on the other hand, vis-a-vis the economic crisis, in his L.A. Times column, he slams libertarian conservatives whom he condemns as advocating a do-nothing policy. So which is it? Does government have too much power (to fight terrorists) or not enough power (to fight recession)?

Never mind the contradictions. The point is that he, Mickey Edwards, is guardian of the One True Way. And it’s just a damn shame about those 386 overdrafts on the House bank, or he could have saved us from all this woe

Edwards continues:

American conservatism found its voice in a Constitution that placed every major power in the hands of the people, through their representatives, and ensured that those representatives would actually be residents of the communities that elected them. American conservatism embraced a Constitution that separated and constrained powers, that specified –highlighted–a few of the protected liberties of the people coupled with clear assertions that all undelegated powers–all other unsurrendered liberties–remained with the people rather than the government.

Conservatives don’t like the Constitution any more? Has Edwards gone to a single tea party? Has he watched a single show of Glenn Beck? Has he listened to Rush Limbaugh at all?

Stop at CPAC today and you will find rooms full of ardent, zealous, fervent young men and women who believe the government should be allowed to torture (we condemned people at Nuremberg for doing that), who believe the government should be able to lock people up without charges and hold them indefinitely (something Henry VIII agreed was a proper exercise of government authority). Who believe the government should be able to read a citizen’s mail and listen in on a citizen’s phone calls, all without a warrant (the Constitution of course prohibits searches without a warrant, but nobody cares less about the Constitution than some of today’s ersatz conservatives).

Glenn Beck was (and is) against many of these Bush initiatives, including the Patriot Act. He’s the keynote speaker at CPAC today.

I disagree with Edwards that waterboarding is “torture.” There’s nothing in the Constitution that we have to take every enemy combatant, lawyer him up, and send him to the Ritz. Enhanced interrogations can save lives. Also, a person such as KSM, captured on the battlefield, is not a U.S. citizen and does not get Miranda warnings.

President Bush was “holding people indefinitely” because Democrats were holding up the entire system of military tribunals for years. something Democrats forget when we’re told that shoebomber Richard Reid didn’t go through a system that didn’t exist!

I’m not at CPAC because I believe in America. I believe in liberty. I believe that governments should be held in check.

Gimme a break! Again, this guy probably never went to a tea party and has never watched Glenn Beck. So what are you gonna do, Mickey Edwards? Keep voting for Obama and the Democrats?

The George W. whose presidency and precedents I admire was the first president, not the 43d. It is James Madison I admire, not John Yoo. Thomas Paine, not Glenn Beck. Jefferson, not Limbaugh.

A nice line, as if there was a choice between George Washington and George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan would not have been welcome at today’s CPAC or a tea party rally, but he would not have wanted to be there, either. Neither do I.

Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have been welcome at today’s CPAC or at a tea party rally? Are you kidding me? Go interview a thousand people at today’s CPAC and tea party rallies and get me the name of ANYONE who would not welcome Ronald Reagan. Just a ridiculous statement!

Reagan would not have wanted to be there? I can’t get into Ronald Reagan’s head or his shoes to say what he would have done, but what else would he have done? Reach across the aisle to Barack Obama and give interviews to MSNBC?

Mickey Edwards, I think you’d be welcome at CPAC. It’s a big tent. But if you’re going to hold that only you know the one true conservative way in all its forms, and everyone else (even if you don’t know everyone else, or even the positions of keynote speaker Glenn Beck) is completely wrong, then that’s a bit insulting.