CPAC: The Conservative Movement’s Confusing Conference

February 13, 2012 / 1:04 pm • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

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CPAC 2012 seemed surreal. The event was anchored by two staunch conservatives.

Thursday, Governor Rick Perry gave a rousing speech with multiple standing ovations. Saturday, Governor Sarah Palin gave a barn burner of a speech, firing up the crowd. She deftly dealt with protesters. She painted a soaring vision.

Sandwiched in between these speeches: Moderately interesting political speeches from Santorum, then Mitt, then Newt.

Internet connectivity was spotty to an enraging degree. I couldn’t write, upload, and sometimes even tweet. Any coverage I did give, came via my phone and 3G.

Aside: This is the fourth time I’ve been to CPAC and this is the fourth time the internet has been a problem. If they want their event to be reported effectively, you’d think the organizers would make the investment into some serious bandwidth.

A couple people asked me how I felt CPAC compared to years past. Well, in 2008, Mitt Romney got out of the race at CPAC and there were multitudes of weeping Romneybots there. Mitt Romney still won the straw poll that year.

Romney edged out Santorum for the CPAC Straw Poll this year. In years past, paid Romneybots or Ronulans stuffed the vote. It was a competition to see who could win. The Straw Poll has never mattered, but the press loves to blab about it anyway. That Santorum came so close to winning this year is somewhat significant. He must have some organic following amongst the faithful to even compete with Romney’s Straw poll ballot-stuffing machine.

Generally, the energy just didn’t seem to be there for CPAC this year–not like I think it should be during an election year. Does it concern me for November? Yes, it does. This should be a shoe-in year for Republicans. I’m afraid it’s going to be close because our candidates can’t articulate a clear, inspiring vision. We’ll see.

Some fun moments included the Paul Begala – Tucker Carlson slap fight, Andrew Breitbart’s rousing speech and the promo for the Hating Breitbart movie, and Steve Crowder and Chris Loesch’s parody rap (watch for the N-word–lefties fell right into the trap).

Mostly, CPAC is about networking. On that account, it was a spectacular success.

Some years back, Hillary Clinton groused about a “vast right-wing conspiracy”. That statement was laughable when she said it. Now, there’s a right-wing network. No, it’s not the top-down MMFA-Obama machine fueled by Journolist like on the left. The more a patchwork of people who tolerate each other and work together when forced to achieve a useful end. Ever try to rangle a hoard of one-man-bands? Well. The bands are starting to become aware of one another, work together, and help promote each other’s work. It’s heartening.

A couple events help with that. For the third year, Ali Akbar, Aaron Marks and I decided to torture ourselves by throwing a party for bloggers. Microsoft on the dreaded K-street hosted and the party was an alcohol-soaked success. As John Brodigan says, the proponents of limited government are not for limited alcohol. See also karaoke.

At the Blogbash awards were given by and for bloggers. They weren’t the only ones. The TeaParty.net presented some awards, too.

Winners included Michelle Malkin (legacy award), Andrew Breitbart (changing the narrative — Weiner Press Conference), Ezra Dulis (video–Attack Watch), Jimmie Bise (podcast–The Delivery), RB Pundit (Twitter–@RBPundit), Peter List (Activism — unions), Lisa DePasquale (friend of bloggers), Jason Hart (state level blogger of the year — Ohio politics), True The Vote & Catherine Englebrecht (bloggers stand with), James O’Keefe & Project Veritas (Sunlight–New Hampshire voter registration fraud) and John Sexton who won both investigative post AND Blogger of the year for work at Verum Serum with Morgen Richmond.

One heartening part of CPAC: Hollywood types are starting to come out of the closet. Kirk (Growing Pains) Cameron spoke for the first time. Allen Covert and Dan Kessler launched their patriotic iPhone/iPad app CherryTree for children. I saw Chuck Wollery on Radio Row.

CPAC seemed better and more discouraging than in past years. Better because it was wonderful to make more new friends and renew old acquaintances. Worse because I believe that the country is moving leftward both morally and fiscally to our eventual demise. Conservative actions are spreading locally and at the state level. Nationally, conservatism is voiceless and leaderless and that’s too bad.

  • Yes, we conservatives must learn how to unite locally so we can change the Republican Party from within.  Real politics is played inside the political parties, and we conservatives can make our Party “more conservative” if more of us would get inside the Party in the local committees, where about half of the precinct committeeman slots are vacant.  I hope your readers will go here to learn more:  http://precinctproject.us and http://concordproject.org.   Thank you.

  • Pingback: Summing Up CPAC | FavStocks()

  • Really???? There was one there who was inspiring , the WAS NEWT!  but you actually have to LISTEN!  he spoke of knocking out some judges who think they are too big for their britches, and using the technological advances that we have made in the private sector and the combination of TAX RATE CUTS, to foster free enterprise …. ya know those time tested truth’s…. but one would actually have to READ his solutions to KNOW he is on our side!  I found him absolutley awesome !!
    http://www.youtube.com/user/SecureTheRepublic/featured

    http://www.newt.org/solutions

  • enolagay

    Hey Melissa I just found your blog (from Dan Riehl’s link) and read your complaint about the CPAC internet broadcast; when I couldn’t get a good stream I went to C-Span and their’s was great.  Just an FYI for next year.