LOS ANGELES, February 25, 2018 — The 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference is now in the books, and it ended just as it had begun: with fireworks.
This CPAC was to be a relatively quiet CPAC. Rather than watching 17 GOP presidential candidates duke it out, President Donald Trump stood alone.
Without a competitive primary, one critical piece of oxygen was missing. This hurts the politics component of CPAC, but CPAC has always been about policy.
Ideas are for calm and sober discussions, but from beginning to end this CPAC saw otherwise.
Before the conference began, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft was banned from a panel dedicated to free speech and censorship in social media. The CPAC board made the correct decision due to Hoft’s trafficking in conspiracy theories, but the optics were less than optimal.
The conference ended with longtime conservative syndicated columnist Mona Charen violating Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment:
Thou shalt speak ill of no other Republican.
Unlike Hoft, Charen has been widely and universally respected in conservative circles for decades. what Hoft is to the fringes, Charen has always been to the mainstream. She is a calm, quiet thoughtful conservative.
This made it all the more surprising that she would launch a broadside against President Trump and Alabama Judge Roy Moore. She called out conservative hypocrisy for supporting accused sexual predators simply because they were Republicans.
Charen repeated an argument that the left frequently makes, and it is just as fallacious coming from the mouth of conservative. Trump and Moore both vigorously denied the accusations against them, and there is no contradictory evidence against either man. After Moore lost his senate run, his accusers became ghosts.
The same is true of Trump’s accusers. Neither man has been accused in a court of law.
The CPAC crowd booed Charen, who was escorted out of the event.
CPAC 2018 ends with Reaganpalooza and Elizabeth Warren’s Strawpoll Defeat
By Saturday night, much of this is forgotten. The young attendees partied at Reaganpalooza. The Young Jewish Conservatives had Ambassador John Bolton as their Shabbos lunch speaker. After celebrating Havdalah to end the Jewish Sabbath, CPAC had already ended.
The straw poll of Republican candidates became a vote on the easiest Democrat to defeat in 2020. 22% of Republicans want to face Massachusetts Senator Liz Warren.
Most of the attendees either dashed off to the Gaylord Hotel and Conference Center for business meetings and drinks, while others raced to the airport to catch their flights.
Even the closing moments had less intensity than in years past.
American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp presented an award to Republican Congressman Devin Nunes. Congressman Nunes has been leading the fight to get to the truth about Democrat corruption during the 2016 election.
Conservative Rebels Without a Cause
CPAC is as important and as relevant as ever, but it is suffering from the same thing that hurts all political movements: victory. CPAC has always been a place for rebel insurgents, from Ronald Reagan to the conservative young guns of today.
Insurgencies are about obtaining power. Republicans are in power.
There is nothing to rebel against. The GOP has to govern, which is hard work and often quite boring.
Trump warned against this very complacency in his Friday speech, but that is the natural ebb and flow of politics. The party out of power will always have more energy. It was obvious that America’s conservative activists are ready for the midterm elections and the fight for 2020.
As CPAC 2018 ends, the question will be whether conservatives around the country who did not attend CPAC will maintain that same level of intensity. The ACU did its job. Now the grassroots must do theirs.