At a panel on the threats facing Israel at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington Saturday, an attendee took the microphone to urge former Reagan defense official Frank Gaffney to run for president. Gaffney — who has made a career out of cooking up John Birch-like theories about Muslim infiltration — responded by saying that while has no plans to run, he wouldn’t rule out the possibility by making a “Shermanesque statement.” Watch it:
Gaffney’s thinly-veiled Islamophobia and penchant for accusing conservative bigwigs of being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood have earned him scorn from some fellow conservatives, including fellow members of the panels Gaffney sat on during the conference. At a panel Friday about Sharia law — Gaffney’s favorite topic — he faced off against Marshall Breger, a former Bush security official who has been publicly critical of Gaffney’s delusions, calling out the emptiness of the Sharia threat and warning that Gaffney’s brand of Islamoparanoid militarism would alienate American-Muslims. As Religion Dispatchs’ Sarah Posner reported, things got heated:
The moderator, neo-conservative conspiracy theorist Kenneth Timmerman, cut Breger off when he tried to defend himself against Gaffney. Gaffney, who insisted that even conservatives fail to understand the threat of a political, legal, and military takeover by shari’ah, at one point shouted “Rubbish!” in reaction to Breger. Gaffney’s fear-mongering knows no bounds, as he asserted that “if we don’t wake up, we will soon be like Britain . . . or even Saudi Arabia.” He had support on the panel, too, with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Erik Stakelback calling him “the Paul Revere of calling out the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The crowd was clearly on Gaffney’s side, giving cheers and even a standing ovation when he would castigate Berger. Indeed, he seemed to be warmly welcomed at the event. As Gaffney wondered the halls of the conference area, he was often stopped by activists interested in taking a picture of getting an autograph, and he signed books for several minutes outside the Israel conference, staying longer to chat with admirers.
But his attacks, most notably on influential anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, got him barred from participating in any official capacity at the much bigger Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) two years ago. “[H]e has become personally and tiresomely obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with him on everything all the time or treat him with the respect and deference he believes is his due, must be either ignorant of the dangers we face or, in extreme case, dupes of the nation’s enemies,” then-CPAC Chairman David Keene told ThinkProgress earlier this year.
But apparently, for some religious conservatives at the Faith and Freedom Conference, Gaffney is a reasonable choice for president.