LOS ANGELES, February 14, 2011 — What a loveless day.
Enough Valentine’s Day. Ending up sick in bed is what happens when a guy gets exposed to a bunch of Paulbots running around, spreading toxicity.
Back to politics.
Kudos to every blogger who came to CPAC and provided non-stop coverage. To do that and anything else was impossible. For yours truly, it interfered with performing, working a booth to sell books, doing radio and print interviews, and networking.
A young girl asked Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal what he thought of Limbaugh and Beck. They should have asked about Stephen Moore, one of the five or six people who really do know everything.
The event was wall-to-wall non-stop action from morning until night. Socializing in the bar meant more networking.
After many had decided enough was enough, others persisted as the Young Republicans held a party called “Reagan-Palooza.”
Running into Michael Steele was nice. He is working on his next move and as always he was friendly and gracious. Michele Bachmann was as nice as always and Sharron Angle remains one of the lovely human beings on this planet. Speaker Gingrich remains brilliant and easy to converse with. Herman Cain is inspiring and Tim Pawlenty was pleasant.
Former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey is taking on Obamacare.
Two other encounters will linger in memory.
Meeting Randall Terry of Operation Rescue was a troubling experience to say the least. He went into his rant about how people were supporting the murder of babies by staying quiet. He even compared it to the Holocaust, a horrific comparison. His way of speaking is inflammatory and destructive and hurts his own cause. Thankfully he did not represent anything more than a fractional minority of the crowd.
Meeting Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform was important. He is totally right on taxes. There was anti-Grover literature handed out, but he looked me in the eye and disavowed it. Our serious conversation was polite and respectful, and Grover came across as genuine.
Proposing marriage to Kate Obenshain apparently required a better approach. An offer to give her elder paternal parentage some burnt offerings if she would convert to Judaism and move to Los Angeles was politely declined.
So what about the speeches?
They do not matter one bit. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
As phenomenal as my first CPAC was from a business networking and commerce standpoint, I found it meaningless as a political conference. There were some positives and negatives, but one big negative invalidated the entire conference in terms of 2012 significance.
Ron Paul supporters are more than a cancer representing the wackiest fringe elements of the Republican Party. They are also so large in numbers and so loud in lunacy that they drown out any serious discussion about issues. The only serious 2012 debates will be the ones that exclude Ron Paul. Unless he gets significant support in the polls, he and all dark horses should be banned from debates. One gets support first and then gets rewarded with airtime, not the other way around.
Ron Paul won the straw poll again, which simply invalidates the straw poll. Half the voters were under 26 and young people have never decided an election.
(Sorry Obama supporters, youth turnout was not any higher.)
Perhaps they thought they were supporting RuPaul, since young people are fairly libertarian about black transvestites.
11,000 people showed up. Yet while older people had to pay between $175 and over $1000 to attend, young people got in for as little as $25. They were bused in. They were given free stuff while they railed about personal responsibility.
With rare exceptions, the Paulbots were obnoxious as usual. Explaining to a few of them that non-customers should get away from my booth quickly became tedious.
The Paulbots’ behavior resembled Beatlemania, another odd phenomenon. When Ron Paul did his book signing, the crowds were overwhelming. Vendors should have been selling tinfoil hats instead of books. Paul was clearly the rock star of the convention, which again only illustrated the degree to which the convention has waned in influence.
Another smaller fringe group was supporting former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for President. He favors legalizing pot. Congratulations slackers and stoners, you have a new leader. If the Paulbots were the putative non-conformists who all acted and thought the same way, the Johnson supporters were the ones refusing to conform to the Paulbot standard of nonconformity. They are an offshoot of an offshoot.
Gary Johnson got 6% of the straw poll vote, again showing how utterly useless the speeches were. In fact, the voting for the straw poll was closed before several serious speakers, including Haley Barbour, had even spoken.
One controversial decision was the inclusion of the gay conservative group GOProud. Several organizations including the Heritage Foundation boycotted the event because of this. The majority of the crowd felt that inviting GOProud was absolutely the right thing to do or failed to care.
To be fair, even the Paulbots were in the majority on this issue since it fit in with their libertarian philosophy.
As awesome as Donald Trump is, he is not running for President. He makes millions of dollars and is the boss. To give that up and have to answer to others is not his style. It did not work for Ross Perot or any other billionaire CEO.
It was fabulous that he pointed out the sheer folly of the Paulbots. Yet he announced that he is pro-life, becoming the umpteen billionth politico on both sides to have an election conversion on the issue.
The Republican Party is a hierarchy, and Mitt Romney is next in line. Losing the straw poll does not hurt him. He can say that among the non-lunatic faction, he won. Paul got 30%, Romney got 23%, and nobody else got more than 6%. That is a win for Romney.
As for Haley Barbour, he is all about maintaining core beliefs while preaching inclusiveness. Both he and Speaker Gingrich avoided social issues, preferring to focus on areas of common agreement. Barbour is the best GOP fundraiser in the country and Gingrich is clearly the policy heavyweight.
Another reason the conference-lacked validity is that Sarah Palin was not in attendance, although a Palin impersonator was there. The entire GOP contingent for 2012 is different if Palin runs. She most likely will not run, and one person praying she doesn’t is Michele Bachmann.
There is not enough room for both, although Bachmann probably won’t run either.
Pawlenty is most likely running for Vice President. He is tall, has good hair, is likable, and is inoffensive. The only difference between him and Romney is that Romney is next in line in the hierarchy in a Republican Party that is strictly hierarchical until proven otherwise.
Dark horses are left out because the GOP never elects them. John Thune and Rick Santorum are great guys, but the GOP quickly weeds out anyone not in the top tier.
John Bolton electrifies Neocons, but this was not a foreign policy conference. Most people focused on economics.
Mitch Daniels may not be your typical, boring, white, Midwestern Governor, but the enthusiasm for him in the conference may be offset by the other 300 million people who have no idea who he is. He could be a serious vice presidential contender.
Rick Perry is too close to George W. Bush and Americans do not like dynasties. That’s why Jeb Bush is refusing to run for anything or attend CPAC.
Colonel Allen West gave the keynote speech and the crowd roared with approval.
Nobody gave a speech that vaulted him or her to the top or knocked anyone out. Nobody broke out.
Many not in attendance still deserve attention. Rudy Giuliani is still top tier if he runs. Former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle would make a good second in command, as would Chris Christie.
The rest of them for the most part are all “acceptable.” People can live with them, as 56% of those polled were satisfied with the field. Ron Paul is a non-starter, and Mike Huckabee (who did not attend) needs to clarify his stance on taxes.
So the people not in attendance mattered more than many of the people who were, which is why this conference outside of Romney’s strong showing did not reflect much reality.
While the right made all the noise this past weekend, lost in the shuffle was a story about the center-left that only the New York Post covered. The Democratic Leadership has disbanded. The Democrats will now continue to embrace the hard left with the DLC dead.
Lamenting this at CPAC was Democratic pollster and liberal pariah Pat Caddell. Caddell is a decent, thoughtful man that still genuinely cares about making the Democratic party relevant again. He also wants a more civil discourse.
This relates directly to CPAC. While the left is purging the Democratic Party of anything and anyone reasonable or moderate, conservatives are opening doors to GOProud and letting those who object to gay conservatives take a hike. This inclusiveness is a danger when it lets groups like the Paulbots hijack things, but that is the risk of inclusiveness. Right now the Paulbots are more a bizarre and often annoying curiosity than a serious political movement. If they ever win any elections, this can be reconsidered.
Young Americans For Freedom made a fantastic announcement by expelling Ron Paul from their board. They get it. The Paulbots do not represent the conservative youth. Young Americans for Freedom and the other YAF, Young America’s Foundation, are what youthful conservatism is about.
If CPAC can be this big a tent, then conservatism has a very bright future. Yet despite a record turnout, CPAC is no longer the political measuring stick it was when Ronald Reagan dazzled the crowds.
However, from a socializing and networking standpoint, it was absolutely spectacular.
CPAC was not the first primary or caucus, but even a useless straw poll does not change the fact that this was the first great party of 2011, with 2012 just around the corner.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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