If I quote, I'll end up quoting the entirety of both of the above links, so I'll just summarize:
THEOCRACY and ANTI-HOMOSEXUAL BIGOTRY: Judge Roy "Only Christians Have First Amendment Rights" Moore and Pastor Rick "I am a Christianist" Scarborough were prominent speakers; both bashed homosexuals, with Moore calling Obama's Gay Pride Month "elevated immorality to a new level."
RACISM: Tom Tancredo, longtime anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic politician from Oklahoma, advocated a literacy test in order to qualify to vote. (For those of you who missed this in civics class, literacy tests were routinely used to keep undesirables- especially non-whites- from voting in various places, mostly and most notoriously in the South.) "People who could not even spell the word 'vote' or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House."
And quoting David Neiwert's writeup:
But as always with Tancredo -- as with his audience -- the real motivation comes down to defending white culture:
Some things we can deal with in just a political way -- which is, you know, by the votes we cast. Other things will require a commitment to passing on our culture -- and we really do have one, you know, it is based on Judeo-Christian principles whether people like it or they don't!
That's who we are! That is who we are! And if you don't like it, don't come here! And if you're here and you don't like it, go home! Go someplace else!
CONSPIRACY THEORY: The publisher of World Net Daily announced his intent to keep pushing for the unveiling of Barack Obama's original long-form birth certificate.
And then, at the end, there was the truth-challenged, thought-impaired guest of honor, Sarah Palin, whose speech will likely be best remembered for its apparent call to abandon rule of law altogether.
Palin also ranked on at length about Obama's supposed weakness in the "war on terrorism," particularly in the case of the Underwear Bomber, who she believes should not have been allowed to "lawyer up." These attacks brought her some of her longest applause. Palin, like a lot of right wingers, seems to believe that the Constitution applies only to American citizens -- even though the Constitution itself is quite clear that it applies to anyone under U.S. jurisdiction.
And then they tell us that they're all about preserving constitutional values. Right.
Of course, the whole line of argument on the Underwear Bomber was really just an excuse to deliver cute lines slagging Obama:
Palin: Treating this like a mere law-enforcement matter places our country at grave risk. Because that's not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this -- they know we're at war! And to win that war, we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern!
Andrew Sullivan's critique:
It was and is pure sophistry - a string of crowd-pleasing slogans with no content whatever, except for an endorsement of a global war on Islam, tax-cuts, populist attacks on Wall Street, a subtle but scary attempt to politicize the military as belonging to one party, cooptation of one religion in America, and, with the exception of nuclear power (I'm with her on that) a desire for more carbon energy, not less (as long as it's developed in the US). She has literally no serious plans commensurate with the health care crisis and no intent to cut spending in any serious way at all.
But she sure can make a speech. It was the most electrifying speech I have heard from a leader of the GOP since Reagan.
And to all this and more: applause. Loud, long applause. No dissent, no objections, merely overwhelming agreement to every last bit of it.
After his speech, a middle-aged female delegate with a twang stood up and said, during the Q&A, “All the media types are asking us why we’re here. Here’s what I say. We’re all here for a little R&R — revival and revolt. If you’re not a Christian, and a person of faith, you just can’t understand what we’re doing!!” She got a standing ovation.
Andrew Sullivan's summary of the event, and the movement:
So why are they really there?
They want their country back. That's what they tell us. I watched a CNN segment where one woman explicitly described Obama as Satan's agent...
This is about Christianism, permanent war against Islam, rounding up illegals (did you hear Tancredo?) and a culture war against the cities and "unreal Americans". Unreal means not Christianist.
He could have added, "Unreal means not white, not straight, or not in favor of an American global empire."
I don't think Andrew has ever lived in the South (at least, not farther south than Fairfax County, Virginia). And I say, on my own: this is how Southern conservatism has always been.
All my life, and long before, this has been the Southern way: blame someone else for what is wrong in society. Fear the Other, fear the unfamiliar, fear that which is not identical to us. Believe the worst of everyone who is not just like us. And, because We are Right and They are Wrong, never be afraid to force others into adopting our ways whether they like it or not.
Oh- and always give respect and obedience to your betters, and never question their motives or veracity.
It is this combination of fear, hatred, and mindless obedience to any authority that looks or sounds like the rest of us that has controlled the South, from the Revolution on down to today. It was obedience to the planter class, fear of blacks and hatred of abolition that brought on the Civil War. Fear, hatred and obedience brought in Jim Crow and lynch law after Reconstruction. Fear, hatred and obedience kept the Dixiecrats in power until, beginning in the 1960s, they began their migration to the Party of Lincoln.
It was fear, hatred and obedience that kept most Republicans silent as Bush and Cheney proceeded to gut America of everything Republicans claimed to stand for- fiscal frugality, international noninterventionism, moral authority on issues like torture, transparency in government, and support for the troops in harm's way.
And now fear, hatred and obedience are all the conservatives have left. The Tea Party, in all its forms, is a warning to Republicans: if you become different from what we are, we will hate you, fear you- and destroy you. The Tea Party has found new authority to follow- Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and the most radical and insane voices of the right.
The Southern mode of conservatism has taken over. The Goldwater flavor is dead; likewise the secular conservatism of the old Northeast. Fear, hatred and obedience are all the conservatives have left- all the Republican Party has left, to be honest.
The last time such a combination succeeded in taking over a government, its leader wore a toothbush mustache.