“We don’t need someone to think”

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011, after receiving the “Defender of the Constitution Award”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: at CPAC in .

English: at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: Christopher Hitchens at a party at th...

English: Christopher Hitchens at a party at the house of Grover Norquist following the CPAC convention in January 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: Former Congressman Newt Gingrich of G...

English: Former Congressman Newt Gingrich of Georgia speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: Official photograph portrait of forme...

English: Official photograph portrait of former U.S. President George W. Bush. Português: Foto oficial de George W. Bush, presidente dos Estados Unidos da América. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 11, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: Grover Norquist at a political confer...

English: Grover Norquist at a political conference in Orlando, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Grover Norquist, conservative general, explains it all. (Credit: Jeff Malet)

 

On Friday evening, conservatives and Occupy forces talked trash outside the Conservative Political Action Committeeconference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. To my right stood two Occupy soldiers, Michael and Mo, both African-American, shouting slogans about the 1 percent. To my left, a cluster of jacket-and-tied CPAC men shouted sound bites about freedom  In between them stood a line of grim-looking, blue-suited officers of the Metropolitan Police Department, both white and African-American, quite possibly thinking,These people are nuts.

Both sides came equipped for a war of words. Michael is a young Iraq war vet from Alaska who once admired George W. Bush, and is now an Occupier par excellence. He offered the high-decibel insight that “The system has failed!” Standing next to him, Mo, a big guy and a regular at the now-evicted OccupyDC camp, shouted, “The 1 percent are using you guys.”

“The 1 percent?” a CPAC man volleyed back. “God bless ‘em. What’s wrong with making money?”

Another CPAC-er tossed this verbal firecracker: “Just because you’ve failed, doesn’t mean the system’s failed.”

That was rich, the Occupiers thought. Michael had done a tour of duty in Iraq — probably one more than the CPAC man had done. Mo was personally offended. “I haven’t failed,” he said, his face crinkling up at the insulting assumption. “I havea job.” He shook his head and turned away like: There’s no talking to these people. And the CPAC gang turned away, no doubt thinking: There’s no talking to these people.

The CPAC cluster hungrily took up the chant of “Steak! Steak! Steak!” Occupiers replied with a mocking chant of “White power! White power! White power!” And so the confrontation dissolved.

“Truth on our side” 

But inside the big hotel, there was no such failure of communication. Several thousand energized, if anxious, conservative activists launched themselves into the 2012 presidential campaign with a display of divisions — but also an unmistakable resolve to end the presidency of Barack Obama by any legal means necessary. Their mood was upbeat, and barely shaken by the falling unemployment rate and the president’s recent uptick in the polls.

 

Jefferson Morley

Jefferson Morley is a staff writer for Salon in Washington and author of the forthcoming book,Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Race Riot of 1835 (Nan Talese/Doubleday).

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 12, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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