CPAC Aftermath and Analysis

Before getting to politics, a word about love.

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.

I commend every blogger who came to CPAC and provided non-stop coverage. To do that and anything else was impossible. I went as a performer and a vendor, not a blogger. On the first night I performed as part of a team of conservative entertainers under the umbrella of Lisa Mei Norton of Big Dawg Music Mafia.

After that I was at my booth selling copies of my books. Given how many people bigger than me had books to sell, I was pleased with my sales. I also had to work harder to get them.

Selling books was important, but for me this event was about networking. Networking for me comes on so many levels.

There were radio hosts I spoke to about being on their programs. I did a couple radio interviews that weekend, including a fiery one debating Israel.

I ran into many people of various organizations and should have tons of speaking engagements result from this. Many of them are smaller groups, but the big dogs (not to be confused with Big Dawg Music Mafia) know who they are.

From a news writing standpoint, I got to meet Jacquie Kubin, who runs the Washington Times Communities Online, which I write for.

She is going to build that into something big, and I will enjoy being along for the ride. She introduced me to the Washington Times print people, and I also met other writers and bloggers with well respected publications. I met Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal. When a young girl asked what he thought of Limbaugh and Beck, I had to interject. I pointed out that they should be asked about Stephen Moore, one of the 5 or 6 people who really does know everything. I got to speak with Ann Coulter, and hope she enjoys my writing and speaking. I will be speaking at events in the future that she is also speaking at. Andrew Breitbart of Big Hollywood, Mike Flynn of Big Government, and Tucker Carlson of Daily Caller were also people I spoke with about writing.

Yet the big media is television. I need to get back on Fox News again. I met Greg Gutfeld, Bill Schultz, and Andy Levy of “Redeye.” I am a pretty blunt person, so I simply told Gutfeld that “I am here to kiss the brass ring.” He has tons of people who want to be on his show, which is normal. If it happens for me, great, if not, oh well. I genuinely liked all 3 of them.

I got to meet Andrea Tantaros, a frequent guest of the show who I recently interviewed. She is equally lovely in person, as genuine as it gets.

I also got to meet Mary Katharine Ham, who is one of the most real, unpretentious, nice people out there.

The event was wall to wall non-stop action from morning until night. Socializing in the bar meant more networking, and after I had decided enough was enough others persisted as the Young Republicans held a party called “Reagan-Palooza.”

Making new friends is fun, but seeing ones from the past is always great. Two of my favorite bloggers that I met at the 2008 GOP Convention in Minneapolis were there. Steve from “No Runny Eggs” and Doug Welch from the “Stix” blog made it seem like old times.

Doug and I and a couple other bloggers actually slept in a Minneapolis sportsbar for a week. Yes, we slept in a sportsbar. This time we laughed about having actual beds in actual rooms, he in a hotel and me in a private home. Neither of us had access to pizza and drinks at 4am, but it was quieter.

Running into Michael Steele again was nice. He is working on his next move, and as always he was friendly and gracious to me. I’ll say it again. I love the guy. 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 my brief 60 seconds with Tim Pawlenty was pleasant. Former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey is taking on Obamacare.

Two other experiences will always stay with me.

Meeting Randall Terry of Operation Rescue was a troubling experience to say the least. I told him I kept my views on abortion to myself. He then went into his rant about how I was supporting the murder of babies by staying quiet. He even compared it to the Holocaust, which led to me letting him know what I thought of that horrific comparison. I told him flat out that 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 of Tax Reform was important for me. I will say more about that in the coming days without revealing anything confidential Mr. Norquist may have told me. I totally agree with his stance on taxes, but have heard horror stories about him and his wife regarding Israel and Jews. At this point I will only say that he was very genial with me, and I do not have any evidence that the rumors I heard were true. There was anti-Grover literature handed out, but he looked me in the eye and disavowed it. I hope he is right. Time will tell, but he was pleasant with me, as was his wife. It was a serious conversation lasting more than a few minutes. He was polite and respectful, and came across as genuine.

I finally got to propose marriage to Kate Obenshain, although apparently my approach needs work. I offered to give her elder paternal parentage some burnt offerings if she would convert to Judaism and move to Los Angeles. She politely declined.

So what about the speeches?

I did not listen to any of them. Not one single speech. 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 discussions 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 air time, 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, young turnout was not any higher.)

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 exception, the Paulbots were obnoxious as usual. I had to explain to a few of them that unless they were paying customers, they should get away from my booth.

The Paulbots resembled Beatlemania, something I also never understood. When Ron Paul did his book signing, the crowds were overwhelming. I 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 had waned in influence.

Another smaller fringe group running around 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 supposed non-conformists who all acted and thought the same way, the Johnson supporters were the ones refusing to conform to the original Paulbot non-conformists. They were 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 speakers including Haley Barbour had even spoken.

One controversial decision was in to include the gay conservative group GOProud. Several organizations including the Heritage Foundation boycotted the event because of this. Yet from a conservative standpoint, the majority of the crowd felt that inviting GOProud was absolutely the right thing to do. To be fair, even the Paulbots were in the majority on this issue since it fit in with their libertarian philosophy.

As much as I love Donald Trump, 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 every other billionaire CEO. I am thrilled 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 year 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.

One politico I still have not met is Haley Barbour. I love Haley, and am disappointed that for some reason I just have not had the fortune to interact with him. He is all about maintaining core beliefs while being inclusiveness. Both he and Speaker Gingrich avoided social issues, preferring to focus on uniting issues.

Another reason the conference lacked validity is because Sarah Palin was not in attendance, although a Palin impersonator was there. The entire GOP contingent for 2012 is different if Palin runs. I predict she will not run, and one person praying she does not run is Michele Bachmann. There is not enough room for both, although I still predict Bachmann does not run either.

Pawlenty is most likely running for Vice President. He is tall, has good hair, is likable, and is inoffensive. The only thing different 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.

I leave out dark horses 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. This is why Jeb Bush is refusing to run for anything or attend CPAC.

Nobody gave a speech that vaulted the to the top or knocked them out. Nobody broke out. I did not need to hear the speeches to know this. I saw virtually everybody.

Nothing changed my mind in terms of support. Rudy Giuliani is still my guy if he runs. Assuming he does not, Haley Barbour is my guy. Linda Lingle would make a good second in command, as would Chris Christie (neither of whom attended).

The rest of them for the most part are all “acceptable.” I can live with them. 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.

For analysis beyond what little I offered, Mark McKinnon did a great job.

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.

I point this out because one person I befriended at CPAC was Democratic pollster and liberal pariah Pat Caddell. Caddell is a decent, thoughtful man that genuinely still cares about making the Democratic party relevant again. He also wants a more civil discourse.

This brings me back to CPAC. While the left is purging the Democratic Party of anything and anyone reasonable or moderate, it is conservatives choosing GOProud and letting those objecting to gay conservatives take a hike. This inclusiveness can be a danger in terms of letting 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 I will reconsider this position.

Young Americans For Freedom made a fantastic announcement by expelling Ron Paul from their board. I am friends with Daniel Diaz, Jordan Marks, and Naphtali Rivkin, and have spoke at a major YAF event. Yet I am not supporting their decision because of this friendship. I am friends with them specifically because they make such superb decisions as this. 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 once 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.


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