What they are calling “the Mount Vernon Statement” in homage to George Washington will be unveiled and signed Wednesday — on the eve of the annual gathering in Washington of the establishment right, the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The big names attached to it include former Attorney General Ed Meese, Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, Media Research Center leader Brent Bozell, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, which is putting on CPAC, among others.
Organizers would not immediately make the text of the statement available, but they billed it as the next generation of the 1960 “Sharon Statement.” That document, produced by a group of young conservative intellectuals including William F. Buckley Jr. and taking its name from Buckley’s Connecticut hometown, helped define the conservative movement for years.
It comes as the conservative establishment is feeling heat from independents who have soured on Democrats but aren’t ready to warm up to Republicans and from the tea party movement, an explosion of largely new conservative and libertarian activism that has directed its frustration at both parties and at the political system as a whole.
A number of competing initiatives are jockeying with the Mount Vernon Statement to define the conservative movement and the Republican Party as it heads into the crucial 2010 midterm elections
A coalition of tea party groups and activists will use CPAC to gather support for a guiding document of their own — coined “the Contract From America” — intended to bring together the fractious movement. Plus, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the authors of the 1994 Contract With America — to which the name of the tea party document pays homage — has unveiled his plan for a “new Contract With America" on the pages of the February edition of the conservative Newsmax magazine.
And last month, House Minority Leader John Boehner announced he was drafting a Republican campaign platform that he predicted would draw comparisons with the 1994 contract and tapped the staff director of the 1994 effort, Barry Jackson, as his new chief of staff.
I find the idea that modern-day conservatives using Washington (Federalist, in support of central government) in their homage to be absolutely hilarious. And, of course, no one can agree on what is conservative enough.