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Right-Wing Stunts and Tea Party Froth on the Eve of Conservatives’ Big Yearly Conference

Right-wing leaders gather at a Masonic “museum on Americanism” to sign a statement aimed at giving the Tea Party movement a set of principles.

February 17, 2010 |

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference approaches, Washington is abuzz about the new kid in town — the Tea Party movement.

Like any conference, this one, which kicks off tomorrow, will have its yearly star, likely to be drawn from the ranks of that rancorous mob of discontents. The whole shebang will conclude with a closing address by Fox News personality Glenn Beck, Rupert Murdoch’s community organizer and  online convener of the 9/12 March on Washington. (You may recall the 2007 queen of CPAC, Ann Coulter, made big news for calling John Edwards, then a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, “a faggot” — an accusation he has since disproved in a rather spectacular fashion.)

In a bid, perhaps, not to be shunted to the wings of conservatism’s center stage, a group of old-school conservative leaders will gather today to put their signatures on something they’re calling the Mount Vernon Statement, named for the tangential location of its ceremonial signing, which will take place at a venue that sits on land once part of George Washington’s original estate. The Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism, where the signing will take place, is run by the National Sojourners, an Masonic organization of past and present military officers.

The statement will sound an ominous chord, likely to win the favor of Tea Party activists, about the message of change for America so identified with the Obama presidential campaign, even asking if “this idea of change” is “a dangerous deception.”

The idea for the statement, say organizers, is the Sharon Statement on which the New Right was formed in the early 1960s. The Sharon Statement was a declaration of principles, not specific to any one issue, but rather to the philosophy of the conservative movement during its salad days under the leadership of the late William F. Buckley.

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