It looked as if someone had placed a lamp in the middle of the California Republican Assembly (CRA) state convention last Saturday, but it was actually a delegate wearing a straw hat with tea bags hanging from the brim.
The symbolism shouldn't be lost. Tea Party members have arrived on the political scene to tell the CRA--whose members believe progressives are anti-God, anti-Declaration of Independence, pro-criminal and driven by Marxism--that it's not conservative enough. The irony, of course, is that the CRA came into existence 75 years ago based on the belief that the Republican Party is too liberal.
In this environment at the CRA convention held at Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel in Buena Park, statewide Republican candidates came to sell their right wing credentials in hopes of securing endorsements. For example, governor candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner tried to outflank the other, though both have held stances these delegates would consider, well, evil.
Whitman angrily denounced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's refusal to "secure our southern border" and delighted this virulently anti-gay crowd by saying she will "crackdown" on San Francisco if she becomes governor.
Not to be outdone, Poizner said that he'd order California Highway Patrol officers to guard the state's border with Mexico in hopes of blocking illegal immigrants.
But no candidate at the convention outflanked John Eastman. The articulate ex-dean of Chapman University School of Law in Orange County and attorney general candidate declared himself "a constitutional expert" and said President Barack Obama "doesn't understand the Declaration of Independence."
"How many of you have had enough this year?" Eastman asked the crowd.
"Yeeeeaaaaaah!" more than 100 delegates yelled back.
If gays and lesbians are ever allowed to marry in California, Eastman said citizens have a right to react to "insufferable" government policies by "rising up and abolishing those governments!"
Delegates--the majority were white and over 55--gave thundering applause.
"That's what this campaign is about!" he said.
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Before he finished speaking, Eastman noted that he served as a law clerk for one of his heroes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to Eastman, some conservatives adopt moderate stances as they age. But, he proudly noted, Thomas has a sign on his desk that states, "I ain't evolving."
To this audience, the line was sweeter than the boysenberry pie they'd eaten for dessert at lunch.
When delegates voted, they endorsed Eastman over state Assemblyman Tom Harman and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, two other Republican candidates for attorney general. In fact, Eastman grabbed a whopping 80 percent of the vote.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)