Friday, February 19, 2010

At CPAC, Tea Party Movement Re-Enters Conservative Fold

In one speech, the year-long journey of conservative activists had come full circle. The last time they gathered for CPAC, George W. Bush had handed the presidency to Barack Obama and Democrats had dramatically expanded their majorities in the House and Senate. Inside the hall, they accepted blame for Bush’s failures; outside the hall, the first Tea Party rallies saw conservative activists declaring independence from Bush’s TARP and Obama’s stimulus package. On Thursday, the Tea Party and libertarian factions of the conservative base re-entered the fold and took center stage in packed-to-the-rafters educational panels. And at the same time, those mainstream conservative groups invited these activists to rejoin the Republican Party that had disappointed them. They’d learned their lessons. They’d closed the book on their failure. And in retrospect, didn’t Bush and Cheney seem pretty good? “We owe you an apology,” said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) in a low-key speech delivered to a room that was quickly emptying out after Romney’s speech. “But more importantly, we owe you what we have been doing since January 2009.” Since Obama’s victory, argued McCotter — and most everyone else at CPAC — the essential goodness of the GOP and the rightness of its policies had been brought into more

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