The people who may save America

(Syndicated Columnist & Centennial Fellow) Some liberals inform us that conservative criticism of President Barack Obama is racially motivated, which is why they would no doubt be surprised that conservatives gathered in Denver recently gave some of their loudest cheers for presidential aspirant Herman Cain. Did they not notice he was black?

Of course they did, but it didn’t matter. By the calculations of my own internal applause meter, they were at least meagerly less enthusiastic about the speeches of white Republican candidate Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and white Texas governor Rick Perry, whose hints he’ll run are about as subtle as his state is small.

They also embraced the remarks of several other blacks, including those of Juan Williams. You’ll remember he was the Fox commentator who also worked for National Public Radio before it decided to crack down on free speech.

He had said on Fox that he might feel nervous seeing Muslims at an airport because he knew some radical Muslims had given us 9/11, but made it clear such feelings were out of place because most Muslims were fine, decent folks. You would have to be insane or a left–wing zealot to think that’s a firing offense, but I repeat myself. At any rate, the issue is between the NPR bosses of the time and their psychiatrists.

Juan Williams is himself a liberal, and still got a warm reception at the Western Conservative Summit. Consider that and then consider what conservative commentator Ann Coulter has to take with her when she gives speeches on liberal campuses—bodyguards. This audience heaped huzzahs on Williams when he said all sides need to listen to each other, and this brings me to stating explicitly what I’ve been hinting at: While obviously passionate on some subjects, the people attending were also polite, cheerful, informed, reasonable and the possible salvation of America.

I make a point of this not because it is unusual to find Americans cut of the same courteous, constructive cloth, but because whole bunches of left–wingers are forever telling us the Tea Party activists, Christian conservatives, economic conservatives and libertarian enthusiasts have the compassion of al Qaeda and the intellectual heft of a Dick–and–Jane reader. What was the word Vice President Joe Biden used about the Tea Party the other day—terrorists?

Lefties resort to this ad hominem attack because the world has been busily disproving their worn–out idea of a statist utopia while the principles of conservatives are as fresh as the founders were, are and will be.

Speaking of that, the most important content point of the conference was that this nation is in deep, deep trouble, partly because of an overwhelming debt, but also because of a steady march toward dignity–denying, freedom–cheating, socialist–style ambitions making serfs of us all, and a wimpy, blame–us, sovereignty–erasing foreign policy.

Making the latter observation was the brilliant John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and future secretary of state if a Republican with sense gets elected president in 2012. To me, the scariest thing he talked about was how a nuclear–armed Iran could be a WMD supplier to real terrorists (not members of the Tea Party) and would definitely change the balance of power. Our White House fiddles while this issue irradiates.

Also hugely impressive was Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and someone making the factually demonstrable point that nations that cut spending to get themselves out of debt are many times more successful than those that try to tax themselves out of debt, or even tax and cut.

I’d like to talk about all the speakers, but must now move on to full disclosure by bragging that I am an uncompensated fellow of the Centennial Institute, the think tank that organized and sponsored the conference along with small but culture–changing Colorado Christian University, where I’ll help teach a course this fall. For that I will be paid and won’t mind a bit.


Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.

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