NYT's Gail Collins on Morning Joe Frets About 'Scary,' Angry Conservatives at CPAC

New York Times columnist Gail Collins appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Thursday, to worry about "scary," fringe conservatives who will be appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. Picking out certain panels at the three day event, she fretted, "But, suddenly, we're back to nullification. All this sort of succession stuff. That part of it is very scary." [Audio available here.]

Collins portrayed those in the conservative establishment as simply trying to keep pace. The columnist dismissed, "The rest of it, you almost sort of a feeling [sic] that the movement has passed these people by, that these are sort of the '90s conservatives, who you know, are not quite- trying to race to catch up."

Scarborough derided the selection of conservative host Glenn Beck to be the keynote speaker for the 2010 CPAC. He allowed that there could be some "good people there," but added, "...They have Glenn Beck, a guy that called the President a racist who hated all white people, as their keynote speaker. And you sit there going, 'Really, is that who you want to project as the most important person of the conservative movement?'"

Collins also wrote a column, Thursday, on the political conference:

The workshops and panels range from "Is It Time for a Catholic Tea Party?" to "Getting Started in Hollywood." But the one that caught my eye was "When All Else Fails: Nullification and State Resistance to Federal Tyranny."

How many of you out there thought we had settled the question of whether states have the right to nullify federal laws during the Lincoln administration? Can I see a show of hands?

On Morning Joe, she continued this theme, complaining, "...It does freak me out that there are people in there discussing nullification. Not since the Civil War have we discussed nullification as a good plan in this country."

Of course, there's also a seminar entitled, "The Rise of Latino Conservatism," but that didn't seem to fit the template of dismissing CPAC as a extremist-filled event. In her NYT column, Collins attacked, "It’s hard for the Conservative Political Action Conference, which was the home of the right-wing fringe a decade or so ago, to keep ahead of the game." [Emphasis added.]

A transcript of the February 18 Morning Joe segment, which aired at 8:12am EST, follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But, what's your take on CPAC this year? I'm sorry- It's where conservatives meet once a year. The real movement conservatives.

GAIL COLLINS: You know- The real, serious, movement conservatives. I mean, these are the- it does freak me out that there are people in there discussing nullification. Not since the Civil War have we discussed nullification as a good plan in this country. But, suddenly, we're back to nullification. All this sort of succession stuff. That part of it is very scary. The rest of it, you almost sort of a feeling [sic] that the movement has passed these people by, that these are sort of the '90s conservatives, who you know, are not quite- trying to race to catch up.

SCARBOROUGH: It's very interesting you said that, because I went to Grover Norquist's- not Grover Cleveland- Grover Norquist's meeting yesterday. And I sat there and listened. And I was talking to Mike about this- It's amazing how nuanced and subtle so many of those people- And Grover, who was a fire-breather in the 1990s like I was. But, Grover- People would stand up and they would spout conspiracy theories. He'd roll his eyes, like "Please, we have so much to work with. Take your conspiracy theories outside. You can really see where the true movement leaders are going- and you got CPAC. And, again, I'm sure there's good people there, but they have Glenn Beck, a guy that called the President a racist who hated all white people, as their keynote speaker. And you sit there going, "Really, is that who you want to project as the most important person of the conservative movement?"

COLLINS: I think they're trying to look like they're with it, like they've got the old tea party pizazz. And there's two different groups there. I mean, Mitt Romney is not like a tea party person.

SCARBOROUGH: Mitt's not really angry. As you say, he's not angry. He's got great reasons to not be angry.

COLLINS: Why would he be angry? His dad was the governor. He's very wealthy. He has a lovely family. Why should he be angry?

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, he almost got punched on a plane.

COLLINS: He did. And we're still wondering if that's about the dog on the roof of his car.

SCARBOROUGH: It may have been a PETA person.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org