Communing With Ronald Reagan’s Ghost at CPAC 2016
If you have a white-collar job, you’ve probably been to a national conference, sitting through a weekend of presentations, held mid-winter in a warm-weather state. By day, you sit in a convention center and eat $20 sandwiches in between racking up accreditation or business cards. Later, bei Nacht und Nebel, you get ripshit on margaritas and maybe commit adultery.
The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, held in frozen mid-winter Maryland, is nothing like this. For one thing, everyone at least pretends to be against adultery. For another, this is a conference of desperate, existential true believers — like if the guy at the American Dental Association conference showing off a new dental bonding believed, literally, that without that glue the core of civilization would be ripped apart.
While the suits and the Powerpoints might look like an ADA talk, the mental and spiritual effect is a lot more like a militarized pep rally or a last-ditch USO show on American soil. You can always see one person dressed like a mascot, and everyone on stage is either a coach or a cheerleader. Our team cannot lose, but someone is always trying to stop us. We have simultaneously never been in a greater state of danger or institutional perfection.
Imagine trying to hold a class under such circumstances.
Folks watching 24-hour news at home see the big keynote speakers: Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin’s Statler-and-Waldorf act with a Big Gulp, a gun whose laser sight projects an image of a minority with a voter ID card. What they can’t see is day after day of activist training seminars and open discussions, all conducted under the tortured logic of an orthodoxy that grows ever more rigid even as it gets more simplistic. This is like taking classes in counting angels on the head of a pin while also taking it as an article of faith that there are No Fat Chicks and that math is bad.
Let’s get the easy jokes out of the way first.
There was The Blaze‘s Oliver Darcy hosting a seminar called “Become the Press,” perhaps because “The Blind Leading the Blind” was taken. One way into the media: “You can become a contributor. At The Blaze, we have a contributors program.” Darcy also sagely noted that people have cameras in their phones now, which means that information is more democratized. If you don’t want to fiddle with YouTube or have your own distribution platform, he suggested that you can send videos to journalists. You know who has journalists? The Blaze has journalists!
After surfing a tide of uptalking? interrupted by um/like/yaknow as little as every eight seconds for a grueling almost 20 minutes, Darcy threw things to Q&A, where we had to discuss whether Twitter removing the verified checkmark from a Breitbart assclown’s account was the first step in the liberal social media’s plans to silence right-wing voices. The audience seemed to think it was, but Darcy, to his credit, demurred and only speculated about media double-standards.
But if it’s social media you wanted, your best bet was a seminar called “Engaging Millennials.”
Despite being scheduled for 30 minutes, the biographical introductions and general pitches took 26, which seems like overdoing it even if your point all along is that millennials are somehow generationally uncharacteristically self-absorbed. Let’s look at those bios/pitches:
There’s a Good Reason to Take Trump to Trial, But It’s Not the One You Think
- CRIME & PUNISHMENT
Stormy Daniels on Trump Indictment: 'It’s Vindication'
- Poetic Justice