Even Politico is mocking:
CPAC muddle mirrors GOP mess
It’s not hard to make fun of CPAC. From the presence of Donald Trump to a meaningless straw poll to a cavalcade of fringe-dwelling book merchants, the event has become more carnival than conservative salon.
What is more notable about this year’s rendition of the annual confab, which begins outside Washington on Thursday, is not the easy caricature but how thoroughly the Conservative Political Action Conference reflects the state of the Republican Party four months after yet another humbling presidential defeat. It is a muddle, but a muddle with meaning….
And that “meaning” is: These guys aren’t capable of running a weekend convention, much less the government. But nobody wins the morning by telling unpleasant truths!
For those who are curious about “tomorrow’s GOP craziness, today” (note: probably not the actual CPAC motto), but fear that
two wetsuits the anti-virus software isn’t protection enough for direct contact, may I recommend Dave Weigel?
Almost everybody with a ticket fee, a press pass, or an elected office. The slogan this year is “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives,” but few of the marquee speakers are first-timers. They include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (who spoke here when his father was running for president), Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (who has always used this event to talk up his budgets), NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre (who used to give the same audio-visual presentation every year, but has new material ever since Newtown), former Fox News pundit Sarah Palin, and defeated 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. More than 10,000 activists are expected to show up, all of them becoming instant experts and pundits for hundreds of reporters, whether they like it or not.
Who’s not invited?
Not that many people, but they’ve immediately become famous. GOProud, a gay Republican advocacy group, has been barred from co-sponsoring CPAC since it did so in 2011 and pissed off social conservatives. (Chris Barron, one of the group’s founders, called CPAC board member Cleta Mitchell a “nasty little bigot” in an interview with the gay magazine Metro Weekly. His apology was not truly accepted.) Social conservative groups like the Family Research Council staged a boycott of the event that year. The boycott succeeded, aided when the ACU’s new chairman Al Cardenas took the reins. Anti-Sharia law campaigner Frank Gaffney has been barred since that year, too, in no small part because he used his platform at the conference to attack Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, both advocates for bringing Muslims into the movement. Pamela Geller, a blogger who won real fame for opposing the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York, has been barred after being relegated to rented rooms far from the main stage. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell were not invited, and Cardenas told National Journal that the former was left of the list because he didn’t have an “all star” year…
And what else?
The conservative media, which always finds a wide spotlight at CPAC, is running some experiments. Andrew Breitbart’s network of reporters and filmmakers and friends is all over the conference: Steve Bannon, who directed the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, now runs the Breitbart network and has three films at the conference. Citizens United, the group that brought you modern campaign finance law, is holding a Breitbart remembrance. The Breitbart crew is holding an exclusive party off-campus, rivaled in buzz only by the BlogBash party co-sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and threatened by left-wing hackers.
Wait, left-wing hackers?
That’s another story.
And the “Hunger Games karaoke” quote (from the Tea Party, of course) here.