Saturday, January 09, 2010

The John Birch Society and Tim Pawlenty

Eric Black from the Minnesota Post has his take on Tim Pawlenty attending CPAC and the JBS being a minor sponsor to CPAC.

Among the co-sponsors of the conference one finds a name one hasn't heard much since the mid-20th century — the John Birch Society. As a refugee from that century, I can tell you that when your mom and I were kids the "Birchers" (I use the term I grew up using and mean no offense by it) were a leading symbol of right-wing extremism.

So this is an obvious set-up to play the always popular "dissociate yourself" card. Under the rules of that card game, everyone involved in CPAC (including Pawlenty, as a speaker) has to repudiate the Birchers or be tainted by association with the most extreme thing the group ever said or did. It's fun and easy to play (see Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright) but also stupid and demeaning (ibid). A letter-writer to the Strib played the card early this week, asserting that Pawlenty's attendance would amount to an endorsement of Bircher views.

Hmmmm, now who do you think will be playing the "dissociate yourself" card....

So, back to the present. If Tim Pawlenty wants to be president, he certainly must say what he thinks the U.S. relationship to the U.N. should be, but he doesn't have to start from any particular that he agrees with the long-standing JBS position just because he spoke at a conference co-sponsored by the JBS.

Lisa DePasquale, CPAC director, told me Thursday that the conference will have 90-some cosponsors. To become a co-sponsor, she said, all an organization has to do is agree with the core principles of the American Conservative Union Foundation, outlined in a series of articles on its website, and buy an ad in the Conference's program. Co-sponsorship gets you an exhibition booth in the hall and the right to participate in meetings to plan the event. The JBS has not been a co-sponsor of previous CPACs, but DePasquale said they met the crieria, they "seem to be on our side," and she didn't think they should be shunned over things they said and did 50 years ago. "Most of the people on both sides of those arguments are dead," she added.

She agreed with me that wasn't reasonable to assume that Pawlenty's participation as a speaker implied any agreement with JBS's explicit positions, part or present. "If every speaker had to agree with every position of every co-sponsor, we wouldn't have very many co-sponsors," she said.

Of course, Pawlenty is no more implicated in JBS's beliefs than any of the many other speakers, which includes other leading undeclared presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Mike Huckabee was scheduled but has canceled. Sarah Palin was invited but has declined. The current list of speakers, co-sponsors and exhibitors is available here.

Amazing, like Dan Riehl, another writer with commonsense..... Maybe the folks at C4P could take a few lessons.....

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