I might be a little late to the party, but there’s no way a political scribe can ignore the March 6-8 happenings at the Gaylord International Hotel.
In the political version of open mike night at the Laugh Factory, the Republicans; I’m sorry, the homophobic, extremist, radical, bigoted bible-thumping corporate and Tea Party-controlled right-wingers, wrapped up their three-day orgy of Obama-rage and Hillary-hate at the 50th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The last speaker, possessed of no political portfolio of any kind at this point, was the bespectacled spectacle, Sarah Palin. Ms. Sarah delighted the radical faithful with a rambling palaver of snarky insults and no content. She was quick to point out that the Republicans were the first to put a woman on the ticket “In this century.” Yeah, the GOP was only 28 years late with the move. The late Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s running mate on the 1984 Democratic ticket.
But enough about Palin. I don’t even know what she does anymore. She’s certainly not much of an influence within her own party. The traditional end-of-session straw poll gave that meaningless result to arguably the most radical of radicals; chip off the old block, Rand Paul. He garnered 31% of the attendee’s vote for president. Please, Lord, make that happen!”
For the record, a jobless Palin commanded a mighty 2% of right-wing voter love. Ted Cruz, placed a distant second at 11%. Maybe it’s because Ted can’t decide between the American Presidency or the Prime Ministership of Canada. Cruz still holds a dual Canadian/American citizenship. A Cruz Republican primary opponent agreed to debate Cruz on the condition the debate was conducted in Spanish. Cruz declined, saying his Spanish was a little “rusty.”
As for the great accomplishment of having this century’s single female on a presidential ticket, there’s little chance that there will be a promotion anytime soon. Condoleezza Rice tied Palin’s 2%, while Ayotte, Haley and Martinez couldn’t even dent the 1% mark.
Speaking of the fairer sex, Carly Fiorina told the audience, “We declare the end of the Obama era.” She’s right, of course, but he’s leaving because of term limits; quite different than Fiorina being forced out of her position as Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard back in 2005. So thrilled were shareholders to get rid of her incompetent stewardship that HP stock soared nearly 7% on the news. Her ill-advised Compaq acquisition resulted in years of stock price stagnation and lagging sales. She still walked away with $21 million stuffed into her Prada handbag.
There’s an interesting figure who placed third at 9%. His name is Ben Carson. He’s a black, retired Yale-educated Neurosurgeon and professionally, the real deal. He’s been honored repeatedly as one of the finest practitioners of his craft and was somewhat of a prodigy having accomplished some great things at an early age. And as a bible-thumping, gay-bashing right-winger, Carson is a perfect fit for the CPAC crowd. Yes, gay-bashing. On Fox News (where else?), the good doctor got himself into the political ICU with the following comment on same-sex marriages: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.” Whew!
Backpedaling like a football cornerback defending against a Pro Bowl receiver, Doc Carson almost immediately told CNN that he loved ALL people whether they were straight or gay, including, we must assume, gays in NAMBLA, or them thar’ sheep-loving gays. The Koch brothers and the Tea Party are going to send this bigoted homophobe into every African-American nook and cranny in the country, hoping that pure hatred will swing African-Americans his Tea Party way. Black or not, this kind of hatred could propel Carson into a genuine contender.
Chris Christie was there on the heels of his vengeful, multi-day, “let’s stop traffic on two George Washington bridge access lanes for a week and stick it to that Fort Lee Mayor who refused to endorse me” debacle. Medical emergency? Getting your kids to school? What does Christie care? He only cares about getting back into the race and his fourth-place straw poll finish at 8% suggests that his pro-life speech and his statement, “They’re the party of intolerance, not us” may have breathed a tiny bit of life into his effort, but his campaign is still on life support. Oh well, he can always call Dr. Carson.
There were 20-some prime potential Presidential or Vice-Presidential prospects wandering the floor of the Potomac Ballroom where most of the non-backroom action took place. There were also a few speakers with no chance at either office. Ralph Reed comes to mind. Then there was the absurd rifle-brandishing Mitch McConnell. Marco Rubio is trying to get back into the game. With his 6% straw vote, there’s lots of work to be done. Along with numerous colleagues, Bobby Jindal was doing “Meet & Greets” after his speech. That cost the suckers extra bucks for the privilege.
Newt Gingrich gave a Saturday speech, looking his age (he can barely outrun vulnerable young females anymore) and irrelevant. Utah Senator Mike Lee’s bromance with the filibustering Cruz earned him a position at the podium. Earlier in the festivities, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott followed Paul Ryan to the stage in the battle of the Cray’s.
The lesser guests attracted little ink or media light. Here’s the full schedule. Amazingly, somebody will still sit through a John Bolton speech. You remember Bolton as the fox in the hen house Ambassador to the United Nations for a brief period from 2005-2006, even though he repeatedly professed to hate the UN long before his appointment. He’s now a senior ‘Fellow’ at the American Enterprise Institute.
Some “Who Dat’s?” uttered a few words. They included Justin Pierce; not the gifted young actor who committed suicide some years ago, but the Arizona state legislator, now running for Secretary of State. Legislator Pierce’s only gift is pushing a bill that allowed businesses to refuse service to perceived male gays and lesbians for religious reasons. Even wildly right-wing governor Jan Brewer had to X that one out.
Face it; Pierce fits the CPAC gay-hating mold to a “Tea.”
A few far-right corporate and foundation types grabbed the mic for their 15 (seconds) of fame, but none of them mean anything to the average American, especially Donald Trump, possessed of some fame, if nothing else. The John M. Ashbrook Award went to somebody for something. There was a tribute to the late Andrew Breitbart, Tea Party-revered for his role in bringing down ACORN, an organization that found housing for the poor. He also called Congressman John Lewis a liar for saying that some Tea Party types had called him (Lewis) the N-word. When Ted Kennedy died, Breitbart called him a duplicitous b*****d and another name for a certain part of the male anatomy.
Grieve away Tea Party adherents. Andrew was clearly one of yours.
In summation; CPAC was what’s it’s predictably been over the last decades. A political pep rally hate fest featuring people who, in the big picture, matter little.