Values Voter Summit: Starting Day 2 Right

Nothing like starting your Saturday with Sean Hannity. The Fox TV personality got a hero’s welcome. While he promised a serious talk, he couldn’t stop from entertaining himself by repeatedly breaking into innuendo-rich impersonations of Bill Clinton. The bullying partisan lamented the “troubling” nature of our public debate, saying it shouldn’t be left and right, Democratic and Republican – we should all be united in the battle of right v. wrong, good v. evil. Then he went on to deride liberals and Democratic leaders for suffering from “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Clearly, the kind of unity Hannity has in mind is everyone agreeing with him. He analogized those he deems insufficiently supportive of President Bush’s tactics in the war on terrorism with appeasers of the Nazis. He got applause ticking off the expected litany of conservative Republican talking points – support the President, we’re overtaxed, public schools undermine our values, etc., etc. But he may have gotten his loudest ovation when he declared “Hillary Clinton must never be the President of the United States.” He ended by assuring the audience that God had sent us George W. Bush just when we needed him.

Virtue-meister Bill Bennett seemed to surprise the crowd a bit by insisting that the Bush administration is being too tentative – that’s right, too tentative – in conducting the war on terror. After four U.S. contractors were killed in Fallujah, the town should have been leveled. Venezuelan President Huge Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should never have been allowed into the U.S. to address the U.N. Reporters who print classified information they’ve been leaked should be prosecuted. Bennett ended on a more hopeful note, saying that while elites have corrupted our culture, we should take heart by remembering our victory in World War II and the heroism demonstrated after 9-11.

Embattled Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania did not show as expected, but appeared in a relatively low-key video. He said he has paid a price for standing up for “definitional” causes such as defining life as beginning at the moment of conception. Santorum invoked the war abroad and the battle at home (to define family and culture), though he acknowledged that the battle against radical secular humanism is “less virulent” than the battle against radical Islam.

Right-wing movement pioneer Paul Weyrich followed Santorum and declared, “Rick Santorum is the most important United States Senator that we have in this country at this time.” Weyrich’s remarks were mostly a pep talk, reminding people how far the “pro-family” movement has come since its early days and telling people not to be discouraged. “We are a national movement, we are a strong movement, we are a visible movement, we are on the march. Don’t ever get discouraged, because we’re doing so much better than we ever did before.” He gave “Dr. Dobson” credit for bringing down Sen. Tom Daschle, and predicted victory in every state with an anti-gay amendment on the ballot this year. Perhaps foreshadowing a new direct-mail and turnout theme, Weyrich claimed that if Democrats get control of Congress, they intend to shut down right-wing talk radio by reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.