Friday, March 7, 2014

CPAC Day 2: Friday Afternoon

The big annual dinner (the Reagan Dinner, natch) is this evening, and while I think I'd rather meander off by myself and grab some chow in one of the little restaurants in the vicinity, I paid an awful lot of money to be there tonight and so I will likely go.  Got a good workout in this afternoon after the speakers were done, as I a skipped the break-out sessions in favor of a little work, and a workout.

I enjoyed the events today, and got to hear Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul up close.  I managed to snag seats just outside the roped off section wherein the "Premier" attendees sat, close to the stage and using a special entrance and exit that enabled them to escape the giant, slow moving exodus from the main hall that occurs at each major break.  Someone tweeted that it was exactly the thing that killed Mufasa in The Lion King, which I found hilarious.

I sat with a group of middle aged women for much of the day, women my brother Tom would refer to as "Yentas".  My goodness, but they were rapid Tea Party Conservatives!  I'm glad they are on my side!  Wonderful women, pleasant as hell, but when the speakers started to speak, I felt like I was in a Southern Baptist church with all the call and response that was going on.  I

The standing ovation comes cheaply at events such as this, but I refuse to get caught up in it.  The ladies were serious spring-butts, up and down with each talking point.  I mostly remained seated, standing only when I felt a point was important and particularly well delivered. 

Before we get round to the main speakers, I want to bitch a little about conservatism, or at least what passes for it these days.  There is a lot of beating up on President Obama going on here for cutting the military and weakening our security.  I am all for that.  What there really isn't much of is any serious soul-searching within the conservative movement--especially among those elected to the House in 2010 with Libertarian leanings--about the degree to which WE are complicit in this weakening.  Let's face it--there is a not insignificant number of conservatives in the House who look at defense spending as just another domestic spending program to cut, rather than a sacred Constitutional duty.  They made common cause with the President and his friends in the Democratic Party, and they don't appear to be in any hurry to reverse the damage they've done.  Every one of them prays at the altar of St. Ronald of California, but they seem to forget that there was one account, one part of government, that he unabashedly spent on to grow--and that was defense. 

Happily, former Congressman Allen West was here, and he had a room to talk in this morning (not the main hall), ostensibly a "veterans welcome" event.  As a veteran (you're damn right--got a huge discount), I attended to hear a man I find very interesting speak.  He didn't get straight to it as directly as I did in the previous paragraph--but he made the point nonetheless.  We--conservatives--need to stop looking at defense the way we look at every other spending program.  We must demand economy and effectiveness, but we cannot accept decline.  He makes quite an impression. 

Now, onto the possible Presidential candidates.

Rick Perry--Rick Perry was on fire here.  He gave a great speech, full of ideas, full of hope, full of red meat, and full of enthusiasm--and he has been actively courting the kingmakers here.  He sat on a panel after his speech on reform in the criminal justice system, and he was great on an issue where there are a lot of great conservative ideas coming forward.  Of all the people who have spoken thus far, he did the most to help himself. 

Mike Huckabee--I don't think Huckabee will run, but if he does, I should cover his talk.  It was classic Huckabee, well delivered and interesting.  All his speeches sound like good sermons, and the audience was stocked with social conservatives who lap it up like kittens and milk.  Heavy on applause lines and light on ideas.

Rick Santorum--As many of you remember, I don't like Rick Santorum.  And I still don't.  But that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the fact that he gave the most important speech thus far in this convention.  Rick Santorum's message of economic populism and connection with the common man is going to HAVE to be part of whomever the Republican Party nominates in 2016.  It must be.  It is a great, straightforward message--one that says while we must make sure we get out of the way of "job creators", most folks just want to put in an eight hour day and then go coach baseball.  Not everyone is an entrepreneur, not everyone is a titan of industry.  We need to connect conservative policies and initiatives with people who work and pay bills.  I love the message, I think it is essential, I just think he's the wrong guy to convey it.

Rand Paul--I wanted to like Rand Paul's speech, I really did.  There was extra energy in the packed house of teenagers that seem to accompany any politician in the Paul family, and Rand really is pretty "cool" as politicians go.  His speech quoted Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Montesquieu.  He wore jeans with his coat and tie.  But he spent his entire speech talking about NSA and privacy and personal liberty.  Now we all know this is his sweetspot, but he had a chance here--a chance to connect more broadly--and he blew it. He'll win the straw poll, but you can consider it meaningless.  If he adopts Santorum's message though, watch out--this guy could be a force of nature.

Daniel Hannan of the Eurpoean Parliament will speak in the morning, and then I'll probably leave around lunchtime.  As I'll be observing the eSabbath, don't expect any wrap up until Sunday, if even then. 

1 comment:

LL said...

I appreciate your comments here on your blog about CPAC. I trust your judgement and therefore you are one of the more credible sources out there when reporting this.

As a fellow naval officer, I am concerned about decline in capability not because the Navy or any service is a sacred cow, but because lack of presence causes the nation problems in so many other areas where we have had traction in the past.

Thank you.

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