FEBRUARY 11, 2012
On the last day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton offered a refreshing change to the repetitious political rhetoric delivered by every high-profile speaker, most notably all the Republican presidential contenders.
They all took turns bashing President Barack Obama and, like good politicians, vowed to make huge changes if they get elected to the White House. Attendees at the three-day conference heard from Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Their respective messages, delivered in the main ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, were not all that different.
Bolton’s was. On Saturday morning the former George W. Bush diplomat distinguished himself by focusing on foreign policy and emphasizing that Obama’s attempt to court the Muslim Brotherhood could lead to an Islamic dictatorship in Egypt. The president’s approach is “hesitant, inconsistent, confused and just plain wrong,” Bolton said.
He added that National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s recent statement that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular” was the “single most foolish statement any American Intelligence official has ever made.” This earned loud applause, chuckles and sporadic whistling. So did this comment: “I don’t think the president cares much about foreign affairs. We need focused attention on these critical national security issues.”
Bolton also criticized defense cuts, the administration’s policies towards China, Czechoslovakia and Iran. He emphasized that American strength is not provocative to its enemies, but rather American weakness is provocative to its enemies. “This administration specializes in this,” Bolton said, adding that “our desire to protect ourselves is not provocative.” He emphasized that this is especially true when it comes to terrorism.
One comment in particular brought the house down before Bolton left the stage. “Obama claims he killed Osama bin Laden when it was ten years in the making. Obama just got out of the way.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Florida Governor Rick Scott also took the stage on Saturday and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin delivered the keynote address after strolling through the lobby with an entourage. It was a crazy scene in which security had to create a path so Palin could get through the mobs of people that quickly surrounded her. The former vice presidential candidate bailed on CPAC at the last minute in 2011 and was abruptly replaced by Florida Congressman Allen West.
Security was extra tight at this year’s event, with a strong Secret Service and local police presence. Outside the conference headquarters Occupy D.C. activists, community groups and union supporters staged boisterous protests. On Saturday they braved the snow to demonstrate and hold signs. Some admitted they were paid as much as $60 to storm the conference and disrupt certain key presentations.
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