Sunday, February 12, 2006

CPAC Report, Part III (Muslim GOP Buddy)

CPAC is a lot like real life in the sense that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I couldn’t buy, beg, borrow or steal a ticket into the Friday night dinner featuring U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. But a friend was able to find me a seat at a table in the back of the Regency Ballroom. In one of those can’t-make-this-up moments, the diner seated to my left was Thomas Frank.

Thomas “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Frank.

Thomas “Writes for The Nation” Frank.

Actually, Thomas Frank struck me as a perfectly nice guy, though perhaps the unfortunate victim of a bizarre experiment in which a mad scientist removed his DNA and replaced it with DNC "class warfare" talking points. Such an experiment could produce disastrous results, like taking Barbara Ehrenreich seriously.

We chatted a little. I told Mr. Frank my brother is a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division and a truck driver in Georgia. Whatever’s “wrong with Kansas,” I said, it’s twice as "wrong" in Georgia. Vis-à-vis the war in Iraq, my truck-driving brother is more hawkish than Wolfowitz. On domestic policy … well, words fail. Suffice it to say I’m a “mainstream moderate” by comparison.

Mr. Frank asked me if I’d heard George Allen’s speech. I told him I had, and believed that the junior senator from Virginia will be the next president of the United States, based on three major qualifications: (a) he’s tall; (b) he’s got presidential hair; and (c) he’s got the kind of easygoing good-old-boy personality that voters have preferred in every election since 1976. Whatever Hillary’s political advantages, she is most definitely not a good old boy. (Mudcat knows what he’s talking about. He's a lumpen-Bubba like me.)

Still, it was weird: Thomas Frank.
And me.
Seated side-by-side.
(“When the mooo-oon is in the seventh house ….”)

If I had found myself at CPAC shaking hands with Ralph Neas, I could not have been more surprised. But when I turned to the other side, I got a real shock: Two young men from “Muslims for America,” including the guy who, in Q&A with Ann Coulter, criticized her “raghead” remark as a detriment to GOP minority-outreach efforts.

We got talking and I really liked the guy -- he was as nice as Thomas Frank and infinitely more American, in the sense of loving liberty and hating the soul-destroying evils of the Welfare State. I’d love to tell you my Muslim buddy’s name but (a) I’m bad with names, and (b) I lost his business card.

(Sometime between going to bed Friday night and getting home Saturday, I lost a huge stack of business cards I’d collected at CPAC. Attention Muslim buddy: Send me an e-mail. I’ve got a friend who’s in the Federalist Society; he’s a corporate lawyer, and I’m sure he can help you get into a good law school.)

We talked a while over our salads and, when the entrée was slow to appear, took the opportunity to head outside and talk at greater length. My Muslim buddy is a recent graduate of UNC-Charlotte, and he laughed when he explained how, after his go-round with Ann, he was told by an older Republican: “You need to get thicker skin.”

“Thick skin! Look at me! I go to school in North Carolina! I’ve been called [ugly anti-Arab slur] and everything else.” Of course, being a Republican, my Muslim buddy’s not into the whole liberal victimhood trip. He is an ambitious, pro-growth, pro-freedom guy, his views typical of young Republicans at CPAC.

He comes from a good family; dad’s a successful professional. And he is very much into social conservatism. In that regard -- i.e., a loathing of the sleazy Britney Spears/Howard Stern/Paris Hilton porno-culture axis -- my young Muslim Republican buddy is on the same page as Michael Medved, Phyllis Schlafly and Robert Knight. No way he’s ever going to support the party of condoms-in-kindergarten and abortion-on-demand, no matter what Ann Coulter says.

He’s just worried that some other potential targets of GOP “minority outreach” programs might not be as thick-skinned as he is. There is also, of course, the matter of personal insult. That’s understandable. If Coulter had been cutting down Southerners as a bunch of ignorant, degenerate hillbillies, I would have been offended -- even if she was just setting up a joke at James Carville’s expense.

I wonder, though, if maybe having Coulter as a high-profile figure in the conservative movement might not serve a certain SEAL-training function for the GOP. That is to say, any black, Hispanic, Muslim, etc., who “comes out” as a Republican faces a daunting prospect: accusations of being a “sellout,” etc. If you consider the vicious left-wing hate directed at Clarence Thomas, Michelle Malkin, Michael Steele, et al., you see that being a known GOP-supporter can be an especially tough row to hoe for non-WASPs. (Hey, I can relate: I come from a long line of yellow-dog Democrats and my hard-core Democratic relatives still can’t believe I’ve gone over to “the Dark Side.” And trust me when I say there are still folks down home who loathe the GOP as the Damn Yankee Party.)

So my new buddy and his Muslim Republican friends, like the guys who make it through Navy SEAL training, have to be tough. They’re committed, fearless -- they endured an Ann Coulter speech, stood up proudly to express their indignation, and survived to tell the tale. They are certainly more manly than Bill Maher could ever hope to be.

I just wish I hadn’t lost my Muslim buddy’s business card. If I still had the card, I’d have his e-mail address, and I could arrange a summit between him and Ann Coulter. Power! And you know what Henry Kissinger said about power,* right? Blessed are the peacemakers, after all.

Dude, e-mail me!

-- McCAIN

* NOTE: This is what us mean-spirited types sometimes call a "joke." It is obviously absurd to suggest that I, a happily married father of 6, would be romantically interested in Ann Coulter, and doubly absurd to suggest that I would take such shameless advantage of the opportunity to negotiate detente between Miss Coulter and my young friend from North Carolina. However, I will take advantage of this opportunity to remind both Ann and my young friend that they can get DONKEY CONS for just $16.49 (that's 34% off the cover price) at Amazon.com!