WASHINGTON -- The poll numbers go up, and the gloves come off.
Conservatives can barely contain themselves at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a yearly event where activists and politicians gather to denounce big government, condemn abortion and rail against all things liberal. Giddy over polls showing Democratic candidates in deep trouble this fall, conservative speakers are in an all-out rhetorical attack against Democratic leaders and even some Republicans deemed too moderate for the attendants' conservative principles.
President Obama is a chief target at this year's conference, where speakers have derided the commander-in-chief as the inept leader of a scheme to take away American freedoms. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak in the afternoon, and the warm-up speakers revved up the crowd.
Obama is "the most incompetent president, perhaps, of our lifetime,'' said former House majority leader Dick Armey, Republican of Texas and a cheerleader for the tea party conservative movement. Further, the president has created "the perception of a crisis'' in health care, "a notion you're getting away with peddling in spite of the fact that America has the greatest health care in the world."
Polling indeed shows mixed responses at best to the health care plans under negotiation on Capitol Hill. But they also consistently show that people are unhappy with the price of health insurance and access to health care.
Armey was positively kind compared to other speakers.
"This is like our Woodstock, except, unlike the left gathering, our women are beautiful, we speak in complete sentences, and our notion of freedom doesn't include snorting cocaine,'' said Jason Mattera, author of an upcoming book called "Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation.''
In case the cheering audience didn't understand Mattera's oblique reference to Obama's admitted use of cocaine as a young man, the speaker added, "which is something certainly that separates us from Barack Obama.''
And the young voters who catapulted Obama to victory? "Even the slutty Obama girl said her crush has faded,'' Mattera said. Raising his voice and rousing the excited crowd, Mattera yelled, "Hey, jackass! Get your government off my freedom!''
The event has attracted many tea party activists, who urged the audience to be unabashed in their "war'' against liberalism.
"We have several bars that are infested with liberals in St. Louis, said Dana Loesch of the St. Louis Tea Party. "Go there, take them over. Say how much you love the Constitution! Say it loud! Make them feel uncomfortable. Have no mercy, take no prisoners, suffer no fools. Don't let them have a sanctuary.''
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.