Regular readers of this blog will know that ConservativeHome values the UK-US relationship and hopes for a closer Tory-GOP relationship under David Cameron. Steps towards such a closer relationship will be made this week when Messrs Hague, Osborne and Fox arrive in Washington to meet leaders of the Republican and conservative establishments.
I’ve been in DC for five weeks – partly at CCHQ’s expense. I return home today after learning much about the role of the internet in American politics. I’ll post some of my learnings shortly (after I’ve passed them to Francis Maude). My visit concluded with time at the CPAC conference. The Conservative Political Action Conference is an annual gathering of more than a thousand conservative grassroots activists. Dick Cheney and John Bolton topped the bill of speakers.
There was much at CPAC to like but the unacceptable face of American conservatism was also on show. I’m thinking of Ann Coulter. She is clever, often funny, very right-wing and made her name attacking Bill Clinton. At Friday’s CPAC she was simply offensive, however. She called Muslims “ragheads”. A young Muslim in the audience politely questioned the way she was labelling all Muslims as if they all believed the same thing. She responded by saying that Muslims deserved the label after flying two aeroplanes into New York’s Twin Towers. International Muslim opinion is excited enough without Ms Coulter’s crude attempts to increase her book sales.
The blogging community at the event were virtually united in criticism of her, but she won an ovation at the end of her speech and the subsequent Q&A. I talked to delegates afterwards and asked them to explain why they were supporting her. They admitted she had gone too far but they were glad that someone was speaking out against the inflamed reaction of too many Muslims to the Danish cartoons. That is the danger. If mainstream politicians are craven in the response to Muslim extremism (of the kind we saw in London last week) the hate of the likes of Ann Coulter will fill the vacuum.