This weekend, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, was confronted by conservative activist and filmmaker John Ziegler over his criticisms of Sarah Palin. Earlier this year, Keene had said Palin spent too much time “whining” about the national media’s criticisms of her, was too “resentful” of the McCain camp, and appeared to be “bitter.”
Keene’s opinions about Palin were simply too much for Ziegler, who is a stalwart Palin fanatic and has previously said that any conservative who criticizes her should be “ostracized and punished.” This weekend, Ziegler tried to live up to his word by unleashing his anger at Keene.
Ziegler attended the Western Conservative Political Action Conference in California this weekend, where he sat down for a scheduled interview with Keene. Ziegler began by telling Keene that his criticisms of Palin “sound like Keith Olbermann.” Keene stood by his views, arguing that Palin’s decision to quit as governor has shown she cannot “handle leadership and responsibility.”
The interview grew heated as Ziegler began lobbing personal attacks at Keene, facetiously suggesting he was “being paid” to issue critical statements of Palin. (Ziegler was referencing the fact that Keene’s organization was revealed to have asked FedEx for a $2-3 million check in return for helping the shipping company in a legislative fight.) “So your influence is either for sale or by lobbying,” Ziegler said. Upset over the direction the interview had taken, Keene got up and walked away, which led to a public showdown at the conference:
KEENE: You are a liar! … [grabbing the microphone] I said this is over! You got it? Over! … Get out of my face! … I’m not going to hit you, but I’d like to. … I’m not answering anything to you because you’re a jerk. … You’re a scumbag. … You’re an asshole. Got that on the air? Asshole.
The organizers of CPAC tried to kick Ziegler out, even calling the cops to escort him at one point. Grabbing a public microphone, Ziegler told the CPAC audience, “David Keene is a sell-out,” again pointing to Keene’s criticisms of Palin.
Ziegler ultimately left the conference on his own volition. Summarizing his experience at CPAC, Ziegler said, “If David Keene is a guy who is a leader in the conservative movement, that’s a movement I don’t want to be a part of.” Ziegler’s antics have attracted support throughout the conservative blogosphere.