Commentary Magazine


Tough Crowd for Anti-War Conservatives

Grover Norquist has recently been trying to drum up a right-wing anti-war “coalition” with Steve Clemons, a director at the indisputably left-wing New America Foundation.  According to Norquist, conservatives are growing tired of the war in Afghanistan and want to have a “serious conversation” about abandoning the mission. So today Norquist, Clemons, and Ann Coulter held a panel discussion titled “On the Right: The Afghanistan Conversation.”

Coulter’s standard speech of one-liners was met with bewildered silence from a left-wing audience that clearly came expecting anti-war platitudes. She said she disagreed with the war in Afghanistan, apparently because she felt the U.S. should be spending its time waging more wars for oil and taking military action against Iran instead. The audience wasn’t amused.

The awkwardness continued through the Q&A portion of the event.

“Ahmadinejad won the 2009 elections] fair and square, we have to get over it,” one attendee informed the panel. A Code Pink activist asked Coulter whether she was concerned about “immense profits for corporations” from the wars. Another attendee suggested that Coulter should convince GOP presidential candidates to come out against the war in Afghanistan.

The audience appeared to enjoy Norquist’s speech more than Coulter’s, possibly because he kept decrying the “American occupation of Afghanistan.” He also spent much of his time on the panel insisting that the conservative movement doesn’t have a strong opinion on foreign policy.

“This is now Obama’s war…so everyone on the right is allowed to think for themselves on this issue,” he said. If the president pulled out of Afghanistan, “there may be five op-ed writers who would send him nasty notes,” said Norquist. “There’s no institution [that would oppose it].”

Sadly, Norquist never explained why he and Coulter were the only ones speaking at the conference if there was allegedly so much conservative opposition to Afghanistan. Or why the audience was overwhelmingly liberal. But at least we got to see what his idea of a “serious conversation” on the war looks like.