Sunday, March 1, 2009

WTF? 'Red-headed stepchildren'?

"This year's CPAC was the largest on record. It was encouraging to see the large herds of students moving throughout the hotel. Unfortunately, the constant theme those students heard during this year's CPAC was that the proper role of the conservative movement is as cheerleader for the GOP. . . .
"What should have been one of the most important events of this year's CPAC, the appearance by Dutch parliamentarian and anti-jihad activist Geert Wilders, was relegated to the opposite side of the hotel, divorced from all of the other conference proceedings. . . .
"I have no doubt that if Bristol Palin had suddenly come available to address CPAC on the virtues of teen pregnancy, David Keene and the American Conservative Union would no doubt have moved heaven and earth to make room in the schedule for her. But they could not accommodate a man who lives under constant death threats by a long list of Islamic terrorist organizations."
-- Patrick Poole, PajamasMedia

(H/T: Dan Collins at PW) The decision-making processes of CPAC are opaque to those not directly involved. Some of my dearest friends are involved in the process, or have been in the past. What has been said of sausages and legislation applies equally to the business of establishing the annual CPAC schedule. Friendships forbid me to elaborate, but if any outsider is naively idealistic, let me merely say that "coalition unity" is at times an ugly and brutal line of work. This is true even in a good year, when conservatives are riding the floodtide of victory, flush with cash and influence; you may let your imagination wander as to how it is in the ebb.

CPAC Director Lisa DePasquale, her boss Mr. Keene, their hard-working staff and a nameless legion of volunteer activists are deserving of the highest commendation for organizing the largest conference in the 35-plus years of this annual gathering. Whatever legitimate disgruntlement, disappointment or dissatisfaction there may be, (a) it is far less than the positive accomplishments of the conference, and (b) it would be better addressed to the conference organizers than to the general public.

Ronald Reagan once said that you can accomplish almost anything, so long as you don't care who gets the credit. And my art-history professor used to share with us an ancient Persian proverb: The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.


  1. That's a little too quick of a whoosh of the hand. I wrote about this as well today, so perhaps later in the week you might address some of the concerns of those who didn't really see a lot of new movement at CPAC. Mind you, I'm watching it all in my pajamas, so this is not so much criticism as an strong affirmation of those like Poole and Pam Atlas who thought the event might have left a little to be desired on some important issues, not the least of which the continuing foreign policy threats.

  2. It's worth pointing out that Geert had just been denied admission to the UK.
    The room where he spoke and they screened his flick was nowhere in any of the conference materials.
    You had to go to the sign-in counter and ask for directions to see Geert, and they were quick to point out that he was not associated with CPAC at all.
    While not being privy to any of the details, one infers there was significant pucker factor from CPAC, the Omni Shoram, and the usual government suspects.

    Aside: also worth mentioning is that Muslims for America distributed a flyer before the talk, which said that Mr. Wilders is "Ill-informed", which is an admirable means of expressing dissent. I don't pretend to know them, but they seemed American enough. Dialogue must start somewhere, so props to those guys for showing up at CPAC.

  3. Forgive me for being naieve, but all most of us have is an outsider's view. After all, isn't that the most important critique?

    Think of this as a "hello" to the world or a coming out party. The theme of reintroducing conservatism to the American public and what it stands for seemed rather lost.

    To my knowledge, no serious conservative thinkers were there. Rush Limbaugh was a fine addition as far as populist vocal rhetoric and knocked it out of the park. However, were there any serious discussions on the direction of conservatism or the history of conservatism from the Heritage Foundation, essayists from First Principles, or organizations such as that?

    This seems to have been treated more as a party rather than a strategy meeting. I could be misinterpreting what CPAC is about and what I saw because I wasn't there. So I will reserve my criticisms to questions, I had a pressing engagement with Motley Crue that interfered. They still rock pretty hard for 100 somethings.

    Thanks for the CPAC updates Stacy and keep up the great work.