The conservative gathering known as CPAC happened last week. The idea behind it is for conservatives to get together, exchange ideas, and layout a roadmap for the future. It is also a de facto Republican party convention. If they had hoped to gel around some concrete common ideals, it was not apparent there was any success from this outside view. What I see is sniping and litmus tests and general overall nastiness.
It's obvious they are an unhappy lot, unable to grasp why America has left them for the more progressive Democrats and liberals - even in traditionally Republican states. For this, they naturally blame the candidates for not being conservative enough
. Both Mitt Romney and John McCain felt the wrath
from presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Marco Rubio (oh yeah - and Rick Perry). Ann Coulter - who previously supported NJ Governor Chris Christie took a shot at him
making the ever-classy fat joke. Christie has fallen out of favor because he embraced President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and was not invited this year. Considering what a nasti-fest this was, that is likely to his advantage
One of the highlights of the event is the straw poll for presidential candidate. Supposedly Libertarian Rand Paul (what person can be truly libertarian if they support government interfering with a woman's private medical decisions
?) won the straw poll
, dooming him to permanent also-ran status. The last person to win it
and go on to win the presidency was Dubya in 2000 (even though he was appointed). Before that it was Ronald Reagan in 1984, running as an incumbent. Close behind was Marco Rubio. I am unaware whether his water bottle was pegged as his potential running mate.
The queen bee of obnoxious (and perennial convention favorite) Sarah Palin, however, brought the crowd what they wanted: a cathartic dose of nasty
“We don’t have leadership coming out of Washington. We have reality television. Except it’s really bad TV, and America tuned out a long time ago.”
On gun sales: “More background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Shoulda started with yours.”
On Obama’s reelection: “You won. We get it. Now step away from the teleprompter and do your job.”
She said - while reading from a teleprompter...
She started her speech by coming out with a Big Gulp drink
and said "Bloomberg's not around, our Big Gulp's safe". Once again - taking a pot-shot at a fellow Republican. Of course - very few people - left or right - agree with his ban on huge soft drink sizes, but that's irrelevant because somehow the idea will become twisted in the minds of the convention-goers that this was an idea created by and supported by Democrats.
But like all Republican and Tea Party politics, where it really gets nasty is at the state and local levels. At one the break-out sessions, the discussion was about attracting southern non-white voters. One of the attendees declared that slavery wasn't so bad
. After all - the masters provided food and shelter, right?
And that gets right to the heart of it, doesn't it? The problem with the Republican party is that they have the stigma of supporting the business owner over the workers, of the rich over the poor, of the white males over everyone else. They live in a dog-eat-dog world, where nastiness, greed, and an unwillingness to forgive are virtues, where helping the poor is socialism, where guns are the solution, not the problem, where Muslims are trying to create Sharia Law, while legislating their Christian religion.
CPAC has shown that this is not something they plan on changing. The attendees don't want to change it. The most popular speakers reflect the zeitgeist of the party, and it is ugly indeed. No amount of marketing is going to wash away that stink.