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.
Best thing you’ll read today and absolutely true for conservatives. Because the press is comprised of liberals, their bias is always to do what is best for liberals. Always.
Today, Jonathan Strong of the Daily Caller headlines with an article titled “High flyer: RNC Chairman Steele suggested buying private jet with GOP funds”. He asserts the following:
Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.
Someone with knowledge of the RNC meeting with Jonathan Strong responded:
“We are investigating the expenditure in question. The story willfully and erroneously suggests that the expenditure in question was one belonging to the Chairman. This was a reimbursement made to a non-committee staffer. The Chairman was never at the location in question, he had no knowledge of the expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location at all acceptable. Good reporting would make that distinction crystal clear. The committee has requested that the monies be returned to the committee and that the story be corrected so that it is accurate.”
In addition, the source vehemently denies many of the elements included in the story, including whether Chairman Steele declined interview requests, details around flights, etc.
The interesting thing about this piece? It’s written by a supposedly right-leaning web magazine [Full disclosure: I have written an editorial for Daily Caller.] Why would the Daily Caller writer want to portray the Chairman as having been to a strip club when it’s not the case? A damaging investigative piece of journalism should be tight and accurate.
It almost seems as if the right-leaning Webzine is trying to gain credibility with liberal news outlets and is willing to do so on the backs of their own ideological brethren. Or maybe they’re in the hip pocket of a conservative who doesn’t like Chairman Steele. Either way, this story may be another example of the right carelessly destroying their own.
No doubt, more details will be forthcoming.
Rita Valeriano was one of several protesters inside the hall who, with chants of “Coulter go home!” shouted down the International Free Press Society of Canada organizer who was addressing the crowd.
Valeriano, a 19-year-old sociology and women’s studies student, said later that she was happy Coulter was unable to speak the “hatred” she had planned to.
“On campus, we promise our students a safe and positive space,” she said. “And that’s not what (Coulter) brings.”
They want to create a “safe and positive space” all the while screaming hateful slogans against Coulter.
Also, what childish silly people. Where are they? Kindergarten? It sounds like they’re talking about preschoolers here….which may be the case.
If kids get mommy and daddy’s health care until they’re 26, at 18 their baby ears are probably too delicate to hear a diverse opinion.
I don’t have time for a fisking right now, but I thought I’d address this little gem from Steven Hayward’s article in the Washington Post:
Today, however, the conservative movement has been thrown off balance, with the populists dominating and the intellectuals retreating and struggling to come up with new ideas. The leading conservative figures of our time are now drawn from mass media, from talk radio and cable news. We’ve traded in Buckley for Beck, Kristol for Coulter, and conservatism has been reduced to sound bites.
This is utter bunk. There is no question that the conservative movement is still coalescing after years of being thwarted by…Republicans. The Republican party has moved away from conservative principles and toward the mushy, ideologically incoherent middle.
As for new ideas, conservatism is, by definition, conserving what works. New applications of old ideas would me more the order of the day.
What many new intellectuals want is to toss conservatism entirely and come up with a neo-centrist philosophy that differs little from old liberalism. The neo-liberals are leftist progressives bent on government control of everything. The neo-centrists offer nothing new. Their ideas are just a rehashed JFK-esque centrism.
As for being reduced to soundbites. Well, modern media has forced a brevity not imposed on past generations. But really good ideas are not some complex intellectual juggernaut. They are elegant and self-evident in their simplicity. What most intellectuals want is a big pile of paragraphs filled with flowery words and obscure meanings. That’s all well and good in ivory towers and I see no lack of it. There is an incredible amount of ideas and information being pumped out by conservative Think Tanks.
What conservatives lack is a clean, understandable, comfortably delivered message. How will the message be created and shared? My guess is Modern Media. It will be a collaborative effort between the intellectuals, the modern media members and the people participating in the dialog.
Times have changed. The media nor the pointy heads nor the politicians nor the people will have all the say in any message. Together, a message will form. Together, ideas will be put forth, debated, critiqued and honed.
The smarty pants set are upset because they had the monopoly on the smart-sounding talk. It’s just not that way anymore. That doesn’t mean there aren’t intellectuals. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the conservative movement is dead. It’s all alive and well. It just doesn’t look the way it used to and some that makes guys like Steven Hayward nervous.
I have the Read This column on the right of links that I think are worthy to read, but I don’t have time to blog about. Well, this is one of those links, but I wanted to emphasize it more. You need to read this whole piece. He is absolutely right about the downfall of the conservative movement.
It is really quite simple: We betrayed our small government mantra with big government action.
None of this is the fault of the left. After the events of the 20th century–national socialism, international socialism, inter-species socialism from Earth First–anyone who is still on the left is obviously insane and not responsible for his or her actions. No, we on the right did it. The financial crisis that is hoisting us on our own petard is only the latest (if the last) of the petard hoistings that have issued from the hindquarters of our movement. We’ve had nearly three decades to educate the electorate about freedom, responsibility, and the evils of collectivism, and we responded by creating a big-city-public-school-system of a learning environment.
Liberalism had been running wild in the nation since the Great Depression. At the end of the Carter administration we had it cornered in one of its dreadful low-income housing projects or smelly public parks or some such place, and we held the Taser gun in our hand, pointed it at the beast’s swollen gut, and didn’t pull the trigger. Liberalism wasn’t zapped and rolled away on a gurney and confined somewhere until it expired from natural causes such as natural law or natural rights.
Read the whole thing.