Before he gave the closing speech at CPAC, Allen West came up to the bloggers’ room, to spend a few minutes with the pixel-stained wretches. When someone wanted to know if he’d be a “target” after giving the final speech at CPAC, he answered with a hearty laugh and asked, “Man, where have you been?”
“Target” might as well be the former lieutenant colonel’s middle name. He was elected from a blue district that voted for Barack Obama and John Kerry in the last two presidential races. Demoralized liberals make themselves feel better by declaring his seat one of the top Democrat pickup possibilities in the next election. When West suggested that President Obama should be visiting the troops in combat zones, liberals acted like he wanted the President to man the door gun on a helicopter.
While serving in Iraq, the Colonel got in deep trouble for discharging his sidearm near the head of a prisoner during an interrogation. The prisoner was thought to be part of a cell that was planning an ambush against American troops. He cracked after West gave him an earful, and there weren’t any more ambushes for a couple of months. He later explained to a military court, “If it’s about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can.”
On Saturday night, if you were lucky enough to be in the audience for the grand finale to CPAC, you learned that Allen West still has his gasoline can.
He brought the crowd to its feet a dozen times, generating more thunder than any of the presidential aspirants who took the stage over the past three days. There were many fine presentations at CPAC, and perhaps one of those speakers will go on to become a strong candidate, and a magnificent President. All of them would do well to study Allen West, and why the crowd loved him.
Conservatives want to rally behind someone with fire, intelligence, and determination. They want someone who won’t betray them, or forget about them once the Oval Office door closes. They want someone who believes in what America was and will be… and in the great people who refuse to accept that our best days are behind us, or tolerate the miserable failure in the White House as the hospice attendant for a dying nation.
They want someone who will carry a gasoline can through hell for America, because that is the journey which begins in 2012.
Let every GOP hopeful for 2012 consider the esteem in which West held his audience. “You endured the relentless and hostile attacks from the liberal left, such as being called racist. Perhaps they should see who is standing here as your keynote speaker,” he declared, with a visible swell of pride and gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him. He dismissed liberal talk of his “vulnerability” by musing that “standing here before each and every one of you, I don’t feel so vulnerable, do I?”
Let those who seek to craft elaborate testimony to their patriotism consider the simple gravity of Allen West’s dedication to the oath all Americans share… an oath which “has no statute of limitations,” in which “we pledge that we will lay down our lives for this great Constitutional republic.” Here is a man whose patriotism is not a burden, or a curse, or a currency to be negotiated away.
Let those who would campaign as dentists, prepared to give their ailing country a sadly necessary root canal, join West on “the verge of the dawn of a new America,” and appreciate conservatism as “the interaction between life, society, and governance.” A conservative leader should be eager to draw upon the treasures of past wisdom. West is a military scholar, with a thorough understanding of work from Sun Tzu through Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln… along with a keen understanding of the “very bad lessons” of history, which demonstrate liberal progressivism to be such a predictable failure.
Some speakers wander off into endless policy discussions. West drops his ideas like precision ordinance. He called for “effective and efficient constitutional government,” in which there is no place for 2,000 page bills with hundreds of waivers, or “failed gimmick policies like Cash for Clunkers.” He won’t tolerate the public-sector appropriation of private-sector concepts like “investment,” or politically correct blindfolds that obscure threats to our national security.
Let those who counsel isolationism consider West’s commanding view of a dangerous world that we cannot hold at bay with two oceans, a bargain-basement military, and a pile of ransom offerings. It would be fun to watch a representative of Obama’s hapless security team justify “granting American constitutional rights to terrorists, while we have imprisoned our own warriors for killing terrorists” to the lieutenant colonel who valued his career less than the men under his command in Iraq.
There has already been some hand-wringing about West’s description of radical Islamism as “a seventh-century ideology that is anathema to the values of America and Western civilization.” Anyone who thinks they can prove him wrong is invited to stuff the theatrics and step up to the plate. His vow that he will “never let Israel down” is exactly the commitment needed to stave off the sort of tragedy liberals spend the lives trying to understand… after all the corpses have been disposed of.
He offered a simple and unapologetic defense of our common bonds of language, marriage, and culture, which is far more valuable than half a century of liberal theories about why everything went to hell after they dissolved those bonds. He counseled “respect for the unborn,” and made a point of distancing himself from Obama’s tortured moral posturing by declaring, “I do not believe that having a baby is punishment.”
Allen West spoke of faith as an invitation, tolerance as a universal law, and unity as a blessing. As conservatives, we are the stewards of wisdom that our forefathers lived and died to provide us. We want a President who can bear that wisdom against an ideology which uses people as the subjects of a behavioral experiment, and devours possibility until only requirement is left. The courage, dedication, humility, and joy to complete that mission were all displayed in ample measure by the man who brought the house down on Saturday night.