The annual show of purebred conservatives and glibertarians known as CPAC convened again last week to rant about how dire and horrible and insurmountable the threats to the “shining city on the hill” are because there isn’t a someone in the White House bent on cutting taxes for the rich.
And – again – the only thing that got in their way was the truth.
Two months into President Obama’s second term, millionaires and billionaires are paying higher taxes. Instead of crushing the economy – as conservatives always warn it will — unemployment is at a five-year low, stock markets are teasing all-time highs, and the housing market is finally seeing a real recovery (just as the real threat of the sequester begins to take effect).
Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, America’s occupation of that country is over and the disaster in Afghanistan is also quickly tumbling to a close. Meanwhile, the deficit is rapidly shrinking, Medicare costs are stabilizing and millions more Americans will have public health care in less than a year as our collective fear of being branded with a pre-existing condition disappears forever.
In nearly every way that can be measured, America is better off than it was when CPACers’ former hero, George W. Bush, left office.
But the right still must conjure a crisis of “freedom.” So they rant against the debt that is almost entirely the result of Republican policies and imagine an Obama obsessed with droning peaceful citizens, taking their Big Gulps and denying schoolkids a White House tour.
The one female keynote speaker at CPAC – the eminent feminist Sarah Palin – touched on all these themes and even had time to bolster her gun-culture credentials.
“You should have seen what Todd got me for Christmas,” she said, while brandishing a giant Big Gulp (unintentionally mocking Marco Rubio’s unfortunate mid-speech big gulp). “Well, it wasn’t that exciting. It was a metal rack, a case for hunting rifles, to put on the back of a four-wheeler. Then, though, I had to get something for him to put in the gun case, right? So, this go-around, he got the rifle, I got the rack.”
The former governor of Alaska makes jokes about her breasts and celebrates gluttony. That doesn’t just make her a typical Fox News viewer; it makes her the premier advocate of the right’s warped obsession with only worrying about losing rights that are in no danger of being taken away.
Of course, when it comes to “freedom” actually being threatened, there’s one group of Americans whose rights are constantly at risk: women who live in Republican-controlled states.