The Wildest Moments From CPAC
Joe the Plumber Briefing Video
During day two of the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference, I encountered former McCain-Palin surrogate Joe the Plumber (real name: Samuel Wurzelbacher) promoting his new book, Joe The Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream. While I stood in line to meet Joe, a star-struck young man asked him if he had plans to run for Congress. “Not for at least six years,” the unlicensed plumber announced.
When my turn with Joe arrived, I asked him to confirm a report that he had recently addressed congressional Republican staffers. Joe described how he gave his “uninvited opinion” to a captive audience of nearly 100 staffers, deploring the lack of leadership and “politically correct” tendencies within the GOP. “They did applaud,” Joe said of staffers’ reaction. “A lot of them did seem to like it.” A new Republican leader was born.
Christian Zionist “Extraterrestrial” Video
Inside CPAC’s exhibition hall, I met James Hutchens, founder of the Christian Zionist lobbying group, The Jerusalem Connection International. Hutchens told me his group favored forcing the Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan and from the Gaza Strip to Egypt. I asked him if he thought cattle cars would be an efficacious means of transporting the Palestinians to their new homes. “Certainly not cattle cars,” Hutchens said. “I mean, you can ride a bus across the Jordan River to Jordan.”
While claiming End Times theology has no influence on his group’s mission, Hutchens launched into a detailed description of the Rapture: “There is extra-terrestrial activity out there, like asteroids, that kind of thing… But [Scripture] also talks about a two-hundred million man army.” And would the army be comprised of Klingons? “China, India, some of these people could collaborate on that and form that size of an army,” Hutchens speculated. “And it’s at their hands that a third of mankind is destroyed.”
Seated on the advisory board of Hutchens’ group is Sen. Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Republican and Hall of Fame former major league pitcher who recently threatened to sue the GOP if they recruited a primary challenger for 2010. “I know him personally, we’re friends…” Hutchens said of Bunning. “He is very pro-Israel, he’s got real questions about this whole issue of land for peace, and he’s voiced that.”
Down the hall, I ran into Peter Brimelow, founder of the nativist website VDare.com, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a “hate group.” Brimelow had bivouacked by the booth of a new, little known organization called “Youth For Western Civilization” which, according to the SPLC, was founded by frequent VDare contributor Marcus Epstein.
During my interview with Brimelow (our first chat since we spoke for my Daily Beast “War on Christmas” report he heaped contempt on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American heavily promoted as the party’s future. “There’s a lot of white guilt in the Republican Party, so he will appeal to that,” Brimelow remarked. As for efforts to diversity the GOP with appeals to minority groups, Brimelow insisted the GOP “is a white party. The numbers indicate they could easily win the national elections just by mobilizing their base but they don’t.”
Though Brimelow is a movement veteran who directly influenced the rise of anti-immigration politics in the GOP, many conservative leaders now shun him because of his openly racialist views. This is ironic considering the crude racism of CPAC’s keynote speaker, Rush Limbaugh, who once claimed “the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and Crips.” Inside the modern conservative movement, racial resentment pays, but intellectual honesty about it can ruin your career.
The Republican Rapper
I met the world's first self-proclaimed "Republican rapper" on the second day of the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. He is Hi-Caliber, a former construction worker from New Jersey who told me that after just 10 minutes of listening to right-wing radio shock jock Michael Savage ranting about "Islamofascism" and illegal immigration, his "whole views on the world changed." Now Hi-Caliber records inspired battle anthems against President Barack Obama, who he denounces as a "socialist in the White House;" he attacks Nancy Pelosi as "phony baloney;" assails the liberal media; calls for a border fence; and warns darkly of the Fairness Doctrine.
In this Daily Beast exclusive video, Hi-Caliber kicked some of the most novel rhymes I have ever heard. Hear him for yourself.
Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is forthcoming in Spring 2009. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.