Michael Medved, conservative social critic, gets a warm welcome at Balboa Bay Club.Before Michael Medved began speaking Saturday at the Balboa Bay Club, it sounded like it would be a quiet engagement. The author and film critic, a conservative Jew, had told the event's organizers that he would be following the Sabbath rules -- which included not driving a car, not writing or typing, and not using a microphone.
It turned out that Medved didn't need the last one. In a fiery hour-long presentation, hosted by Principles Over Politics, the speaker took on antiwar protesters, left-leaning historians and mainstream media figures with enough gusto to be heard easily in the back row.
As signed copies of his recent book, "Right Turns," lay around the tables -- the author had autographed them before the Sabbath -- Medved outlined his personal journey from the left to the right, slamming not only opponents of the Bush administration but also critics of the Vietnam War. He started the morning with a pun as he described the process of walking to the Balboa Bay Club and receiving wrong directions.
"Twice I turned left and I should have turned right," Medved joked. "The story of my life."
The organization that sponsored Medved's speech, Principles Over Politics, is a right-leaning group that includes Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Bob Novak and Pat Buchanan among its honorary members. The president, Gil Ferguson, said he had had difficulty getting Medved for his previous Saturday breakfast meetings but managed to snare the author this time because Medved was staying for the weekend at the Hyatt Newporter.
The hundreds of attendees at the Balboa Bay Club gave Medved's speech a rousing reception, often interrupting him with applause. After the breakfast, a number of audience members said they were veterans, a group that Medved heralded throughout his presentation.
"Everything worth defending ultimately depends on military force," the author declared early in his talk.
A former Vietnam War protester, Medved said he lost faith in the American left in 1975, when his government stood by during the postwar atrocities in Vietnam and Cambodia. Many of the war's staunchest enemies, he claimed, ceased to complain as soon as President Nixon abolished the draft.
Throughout his speech, Medved portrayed critics of the war in Iraq as similarly apathetic.
"The people right now who talk about American atrocities, who compare our troops to the Nazis, the Michael Moores and Cindy Sheehans of the world, these people really despise America," Medved said.
Medved also extended his attacks to the media, criticizing legendary newscaster Walter Cronkite for his views on the Vietnam War and attacking Hollywood movies -- including the recent "Jarhead" -- for what he saw as a negative portrayal of soldiers.
When an audience member asked Medved if he considered any of America's wars unjust, however, the author cited both World War I and the War of 1812, which he called "insane and wrongheaded."