Conservatives returning to the high seas

By Ann Gerhart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 5, 2010; 9:57 AM

Is the Tea Party going all cruise-y?

"ENLIST NOW to be on board with the most freedom-embracing and liberty-loving navy at sea: the WND Navy and the Tea Party at Sea!" is the online come-hither for an eight-day Caribbean cruise in September, sponsored by the conservative publishing site WorldNet Daily.

Destination TEOTWAWKI? (Note to the less-fatalistic among our readers: That's "The End of the World As We Know It."

Not at all. The Royal Caribbean vessel "Liberty of the Seas" sets sail from Miami and calls on ports at St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola (which is what the cruise line calls its private barbed-wire enclosed beach, actually located in Haiti).

On board for teaching sessions are Joseph Farah, Alan Keyes, Jerome Corsi, David Kupelian, and Aaron Klein, all contributors to WorldNet Daily, a site whose typical headlines include "It's Obama's Birthday -- Without Evidence" and "Sears: Where America Shops for Nudity."

"In between our times of sharpening and edifying you," as the Web site puts it, cruisers can amble around a ship that has an ice rink, boxing ring and cantilevered whirlpools, "all of this, and at the incredibly low starting price of $399.00 per person while supplies last."

The cruise follows the WorldNet Daily "Taking America Back" conference, a three-day extravaganza at Miami's Doral Resort and Spa (home of the Blue Monster golf course). The conference spans Constitution Day, Sept. 17, and features a current elected representative, Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); a couple of formers, Jeremiah Denton (R-Ala.) and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.); and a couple hopefuls (Floridians Allen West, a GOP candidate for the House, and Alexander Snitker, the Libertarian Party candidate running for Senate). And, for all of you who have been wondering, "Where's Ann Coulter lately?", the conservative commentator will be on board, too.

There's also a Cruise for Liberty in January, on the same ship, packaged by the same company, Sovereign Cruises, and being marketed to "true patriots who are passionately committed to the principles of liberty and freedom as granted to us by the Founding Fathers." Keyes will be back on board for sharpening and edifying, joined by former Georgia congressman Bob Barr (R) and Gary DeMar, founder of American Vision, which seeks "to restore America's biblical foundation from Genesis to Revelation."

Also part of the branding for the January cruise are the American Political Action Committee, the Christian Family Coalition, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and Patriot Depot, which provides "supplies for the conservative revolution."

There won't be any barrels of tea to throw overboard in tribute to the movement's Revolution-era namesake event. But the cruises do, in a way, bring the "tea party" phenomenon full circle.

After all, it really started in the summer of 2007, when two cruise ships loaded with conservatives and the staffs of the Weekly Standard and the National Review docked in Juneau, Alaska.

The pundits were invited for lunch at the governor's mansion, and there they were smitten with Sarah Palin, her high heels clicking across the rough-hewn floors. As Jane Mayer recounted in an article in The New Yorker, "Standard editor Fred Barnes recalled being 'struck by how smart Palin was, and how unusually confident. Maybe because she had been a beauty queen, and a star athlete, and succeeded at almost everything she had done.' It didn't escape his notice, too, that she was 'exceptionally pretty.' "

Michael Gerson called her a "mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc."

William Kristol and Dick Morris returned to their perches trilling her praise, which reached the ears of one John McCain. Now he's struggling for reelection to his Arizona Senate seat, and Palin and the tea party sail on.

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