Saturday, March 8, 2014

Conservative Political Nonentity Sarah Palin to Close CPAC Today

And CPAC, “the granddaddy of conservative conclaves, a multi-day, big-budget ideological extravaganza put on by and for the unabashedly conservative wing of the Republican Party” (The Daily Beast) draws to a close today. 

Speakers have ranged from has-been-but-wanna-be-again politicians like Sarah Palin to gun toting multimillionaire politicians who nobody likes like Mitch McConnell – yes, he really did bring a gun to the Conference. Rumor has it that he brought it because he’d been told there would be a shooting range at the Conference and he had been practising like crazy, hoping he could improve his popularity if only he could hit the bulls eye. 

As it happens there is a shooting range – courtesy of the NRA of course - but it’s virtual only. Just kidding about McConnell’s motive for bringing the gun. He actually bought it for a buddy. 

In today’s line-up there are non-politicians like Dr. Ben Carson, Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and there have been lunatics like Donald Trump. Trump, in an interview with The Washington Times (not to be confused with the Washington Post or the New York Times whose script it imitates), said when asked if he was a Tea Party member “I certainly seem to be in a sense. They like me, and I like them. And we have very much the same principles. When I speak to the Tea Party, they have the biggest crowd of anybody.” I almost feel sorry for the Tea Party. Their only celebrity is Donald Trump who gets crazier by the day. He really takes himself seriously though. I’m not so sure that CPAC did, however. Go to the page on their website that lists confirmed speakers. Donald is last. In a row all by himself. 

In today’s schedule speakers will make themselves available to meet and greet. Dr. Carson, who wrote It’s One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future has a Special meet and greet. There’s one itty bitty little requirement: you have to have ordered or pre-ordered his book.  Hmm. As far as I can see from the CPAC programme, Dr. Carson is the only one to have a special meet and greet. And he’s not even a politician.  There are plenty of book signings and people who have written books meeting and greeting, though. Huh. Not a bad place to market your books. Not that that’s the purpose of the Conference. I don’t think so, anyway, but you never know with these Republicans. 

Chris Cox, Executive Director of NRA Institute for Legislative Action, speaks on “More Guns, Less Crime: How Law Enforcement is Beginning to Embrace a Well-Armed Civilian Population.” Well, that’s a relief. I'm trying to imagine cops armed to the teeth with assault rifles hugging civilians with pistols in their pockets and taped to their ankles, and one assault rifle in each hand. Oops. Did somebody's gun go off? Sorry my friend, my dear friend. I just shot you in the foot.

Dan Garza, Executive Director of LIBRE Initiative, has half an hour to elaborate on part 2 of  “Healthcare after ObamaCare: A Practical Guide for Living When No One Has Insurance and America Runs Out of Doctors.” I guess Garza prepared that talk back in 2010. Obviously hasn’t looked at the statistics lately. Poor sod doesn’t know that Obamacare popularity and functionality is on an upwardly mobile trajectory. 

For anybody worried about the environment, Alex Epstein, President & Founder of the Center for Industrial Policy, will reassure with a talk on his book Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet

As far as I can see there’s nobody talking about why women shouldn’t want equal pay, thank God. But the topic “Why Conservatism is Right for Women: How Conservatives Should Talk About Life, Prosperity & National Security” will be discussed by four women. That title looks like a bit of non sequitur to me, but who am I to say. Personally I don’t understand why any women vote Republican. Some kind of Pavlovian conditioning I guess. 

Ralph Hallow, Political Editor of the Washington Times (again, not to be confused with the Washington Post or the New York Times) will stimulate the serious politicos with “Clairvoyance and Hard Data: Electoral Trends for 2014, 2016 … and 2040.” Seriously?

There’s plenty of entertainment, most notable of which will be a screening of the movie Persecuted. Interestingly, if you go to CPAC’s website, there’s a rotating list of sponsors, in various groupings. Get to Associate Sponsors, though, and there’s only one. Koch Industries. Next to their logo is the logo for Persecuted. Subtle. Sinister. Frigging scary, actually. Oh, and did you know that Facebook was a sponsor? Yes, it really is. Along with organizations like the NRA, Koch Industries, and the series Amazing America with Sarah Palin. I knew there was a reason why I don’t like Facebook. 

The day, and the Conference, ends on a dramatic, politically earth shattering note with a 20 minute closing speech from The Honorable Sarah Palin who will be introduced by Chris Cox, who is, remember?, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. You go, girl. 

Well I’m sure it’s been fun. Whatever CPAC achieved, one thing it did illustrate perfectly. Nobody stood out, nobody shone, nobody said anything of particular importance. Some people said some pretty ridiculous things. For example, everything Donald Trump said. See The Daily Beast for some great satire on him. Then there was Paul Ryan who, earlier in the Conference reassured a crowd of adoring fans that the GOP isn’t falling apart; in fact the very opposite is true. All this “infighting” is nothing more than grand creativity expressing itself. Politico quotes Ryan as saying “What I see is a vibrant debate. We’re figuring out the best way to apply our principles to the challenges of the day. Sure, we have our disagreements, and yes, it can get a little passionate. I like to think of it as creative tension. For the most part, these disagreements have not been over principles or even policies. They’ve been over tactics. So I think we should give each other the benefit of the doubt.” 

I wonder what the moderate Republicans who want to get rid of the Tea Party extremists thought about that. And what are we to make of 26 competing candidates? As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post said in a great article on this topic, “When you have 26 conservative combatants, you don’t have war; you have mayhem.”