Salon.com News | Beautiful young shock troops for Bush: "It was the first night of the 55th biennial college Republican convention at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, and around 1,000 young people had gathered for three days to hear speakers like Rove, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former U.S. Sen. Bob Barr and right-wing polemicist David Horowitz. "
Again and again throughout the weekend convention, speakers emphasized that the eager young people before them were the future of the party of Hoover, Nixon and Reagan.
Hoover, Nixon, and Reagan?!??! Are you kidding me? The Great Depression, Watergate, and Mr. Deficit Spending? Those are the guys they idolize?
Ann Coulter remains wildly popular -- Parker Stephenson, chairman of Ohio College Republicans, calls her "one of my favorite conservative thinkers." Any term more specific than, perhaps, "human", that includes both Ann Coulter and William F. Buckley is so stretched as to be meaningless.
Hilarity abounded, as when Tom DeLay took the stage and begain, "Good afternoon, or as John Kerry might say, bonjour." Ummm, Tom? Kerry's not the one with the French last name.
DeLay continued, asking people to "close your eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that Navy jet" as an example of how "out of touch" the Democrats are. Kennedy, of course, served in the Army from 1951-53, and has landed exactly as many jets on carriers as George W. Bush. Zero.
But what of the actual College Republicans? Well, let's join four of them in the lobby bar shortly after Karl Rove's speech: Rosanne Ferruggia, a 19-year-old junior at George Washington University and the publisher of the GW Patriot, a conservative student newspaper; Chris Sibeni, chairman of hte Hofstra College Republicans; an unidentified 19-year-old Georgetown student; and Jeffrey Chen, a 22-year-old recent Johns Hopkins graduate.
"I'm a Republican because liberals make me sick," said Sibeni, spitting out the words. "I don't like whiny people and tree-huggers."
"You're a tree-hugger, but the tree you're hugging is the money tree," joked Chen, a jocular 22-year-old who plans to attend law school next year at either Boston University or Tulane.
After a cocktail, the foursome retired to Sibeni and Chen's disheveled room, where the hosts made the girls fuzzy navels with orange juice and peach schnapps. At which point all let loose their political ids.
Sibeni, who had spiky hair, glasses and a long face, is high-strung and given to rash pronouncements. He denounced assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for "dividing the country" and trying to help African-Americans "advance over the white society," and defended American support of the brutal Augusto Pinochet regime in Chile. Chen, who went to high school with Sibeni in Great Neck, Long Island, is easy-going and quick to concede Republican mistakes, mocking his friend's more outré arguments.
While Sibeni declared that Bill Clinton had been more dangerous to America than Osama bin Laden, Chen defended the ex-president's economic program. "Without him," Chen argued, "we would not have had globalization. He took a Republican idea, used it as a Democratic idea, and used it to become the most popular president of all time."
Chen seemed so mild and centrist that at one point I called him a closet Democrat. Taken aback, he replied: "How am I a closet Democrat? I'm racist, I love guns and I hate welfare."
He wasn't kidding. "I'm racist against anybody who doesn't work for a living," said Chen, whose family comes from Taiwan. "We're in Washington D.C. You can guess who that is." He's no fan of religion, but says he's less bothered about paying tax dollars to faith-based programs than to "crack whores who have eight kids because it's easier than working."
"I wish there could be racial equality," said Sibeni, who, while in high school, refused to attend Martin Luther King Day celebrations. "The number one reason there's racial inequality is because of hip-hop."
"For young black men, it glorifies something they try to live up to, and they end up dead or in jail," says Ferruggia, sipping her drink.
Before the Supreme Court's decision upholding affirmative action last month, "I couldn't admit I'm a racist," Chen said. "They admitted they're racist, so now I can too."
All four of them believe they have lost opportunities to affirmative action. "I applied to NYU and I didn't get in," says Sibeni. "My SAT scores weren't the greatest ..."
"You were just another white guy from Long Island," says Ferruggia. "The only person you can really discriminate against anymore is white men."
Ferruggia, the daughter of a pharmaceutical salesman, was valedictorian of her Southwest Florida high school. "I had the highest SAT scores in between five and 10 years" at her school, she says, and feels affirmative action cheated her out of scholarships. "I watched minority after minority after minority accept these awards ... I'm tired of people whining that I'm taking away from them."
"A lot of poor white people in the trenches of Appalachia, they don't complain, they go out and work," said Ferruggia's blond friend, who sat quietly next to her for most of the evening. "Black people have been given a lot of chances ..."
"And they always screw it up," said Sibeni.
Despite his high school rebellion against Martin Luther King, Chen said Sibeni used to be a "docile, pacifist kid" who others picked on. Sometimes, Chen said, he even joined in.
Then something happened to Sibeni in 2000.
He was walking on campus one night and "two African-American males came up to me," he recalled. "They said, 'Yo, nigga, can I get a dollar?' Being the affable person I am, I took out my wallet. They grabbed the wallet, but I took it back. I saw one of them reaching in his pants. He had two circular bandsaw blades. I took off."
Sibeni had the remote-control keys to his Pathfinder, and he said he used them to set the car alarm off. Then he ran to a friend's room and started drinking.
Later that night, he continued, two Estonian exchange students were robbed and "almost beaten to death." Sibeni's attempted muggers confessed to the crime and were given two years in juvenile detention.
After that, Sibeni got into guns. He now owns an assault rifle, a shotgun and a hunting rifle that he always keeps loaded.
Looking at Sibeni sitting cross-legged on his bed, Chen said: "You used to get beat up. Now you're the one beating people up."
Sibeni has brief charitable impulses -- he considered donating his ticket to the Rove dinner to a homeless person, so he could enjoy a free steak. But the idea of being forced to contribute to a broader civic good makes him livid. Taxes, he insisted, should be abolished. Who, then, will build things like roads? "Coca Cola should be building roads just to get exposure," Sibeni said.
"Who's going to build a road in inner-city Baltimore?" asked Chen.
"It's not my problem," said Sibeni.
Is this guy a keeper, or what? Heavily armed, liked Pinochet, thinks Bill Clinton was more dangerous than bin Laden, black people always screw up their chances, and is convinced he didn't get into NYU because of minorities, even though his "SAT scores weren't the greatest." But building roads in the inner city isn't "my problem". What a guy.
Remember these people when you go to the voting booth. Please.