Let's see: You're creating the "official trailer" for this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. CPAC is more than forty years old now, so you want to begin your trailer with a tribute to prominent right-wingers of the past. There are quite a few names to choose from; of these, you pick seven.
Do you think it should have been possible to pull this off without putting an unvarnished racist in the #2 slot, right after Ronald Reagan?
There he is, twelve seconds in -- and not only does he get pride of place right after Saint Ronnie, we see him as Reagan says in voiceover,
Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look.
This as a photo of Reagan at the podium dissolves into a photo of Helms with a friendly hand on Reagan's shoulder.
But why should we expect more from conservatives when one of the leading lights of the right, Ted Cruz, says things like this?
“I’ll tell you something ... the very first political contribution I ever made in my life was to Jesse Helms. When I was a kid, I sent $10 to Jesse Helms, ’cause they were beating up on him, they were coming after him hard and I thought it wasn’t right, and at the time my allowance was 50 cents a week,” the Texas Republican said. “I am willing to venture a guess that I may have been Jesse Helms’ single largest donor as a percentage of annual income.”
Cruz also recalled a story about when a young Helms received a campaign donation check from John Wayne. He explained that, according to the story, Helms figured out how to get in touch with Wayne and called to thank him for the support.
“Apparently Wayne said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re that guy saying all those crazy things. We need 100 more like you,'” Cruz said. “The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”
Just for the record, nearly every prominent Republican considering a presidential run in 2016 will be at CPAC -- Bolton, Bush, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Jindal, Paul, Perry, Rubio, Santorum, and Walker will all speak.
In the words of Charlie Pierce, I despair of the rebranding.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog