Libertarians versus neocons at CPAC

Before the Conservative Political Action Conference got underway last Thursday, reams of coverage in the MSM plumbed the rift between the leave-us-alone libertarians and economic conservatives on one side and the religious and social-issues conservatives on the other.

Focus on the Family and others on the religious right had boycotted the annual gathering when the gay conservative group, GoProud, was allowed to sign on as a sponsor of the event.

But the far more interesting internal spat showed itself Thursday when former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the invasion of Iraq, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, looking quite spry for someone without a pulse, were jeered by anti-war libertarians and Ron Paul supporter. Neocons in the house thundered back with “USA! USA!” chants.

Rumsfeld was there to get the Defender of the Constitution Award, and Cheney made a surprise appearance to congratulate his old friend.

“Show us the shekels, Dick, show us the shekels!” one activist yelled at Cheney, apparently accusing the ex-vice president of being an Israeli tool. “Draft dodger!” another shouted. Someone else – possibly with a taste for irony – yelled “liberator!” Another, “Murderous scum!” And finally, “Where’s bin Laden?”

Cheney, for the record, did not respond with the same anatomically impossible imperative he directed at Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.,Vt.) on the Senate floor back in 2004. The former vice president seemed quite amused by the scene.