Were you paying attention to this year’s CPAC? I attach some hi-lite reels above. It was quite the event! A real humdinger!
CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, started out in 1974 as a sort of professional symposium for dedicated hard core conservatives, where major right wing players gave conventionally right wing speeches and presented bog-standard right wing ideas. Ronald Reagan gave the first keynote address, in which, if memory serves, he popularized that “city on a hill” bull-huckey first uttered by the Puritan John Winthrop in his mid-17th Century mission statement for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Classic stuff. I know little else about what was actually said there for the first few years, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that some recurring themes were strong national defence, cutting taxes, dismantling the nanny state, law and order, small government, free markets, entitlement reform, and the upsetting aspects of the constitutional separation of church and state, especially when it came to school prayer. Oh yeah, also The Second Amendment – God’s gift, or Holy Writ?
Not my cup of tea, but hey, it was more or less rational. Back then, though the seeds of the GOP’s future dysfunction had already been sown by the likes of Lee Atwater, and the trend towards ugliness was already apparent in gambits like Nixon’s infamously racist “Southern Strategy”, it was still possible to look at the attendees and their star attractions as mere political opponents whose views you contested. Like, say, Mitt Romney. There’s not much that Mitt would achieve as a policymaker that I could get behind, but you know, he doesn’t profess love for Kim Jong Un or anything like that. He wouldn’t hire the FSB and GRU for his campaign team, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a history of paying hush money to adult film stars. In the 2012 debates with Obama he talked about strengthening the navy, which plays really well in this household, and if he ever became Commander In Chief I’d make book that we’d all still be alive at the end of his first term (natural causes etc. permitting).
When left-leaning bleeding heart tree-huggers like me raise the alarm about “alt-right fever swamps”, the 2019 iteration of CPAC is what we’re on about. Watch the attached clips. These guys are just a biscuit short of the Q-Anon crowd. They don’t claim that the government is lousy with Lizard People or that Democrats abuse and then eat abducted children, but they do warn against how the libs want to take away America’s cows, and favour “post-birth abortion”, otherwise known as infanticide. They do equate democratic socialism with Stalinism, and if you told them that places like Denmark are run by democratic socialists they’d say see, that proves their point. Commie freedom-hating Scandinavian bastards. Look at this Sebastian Gorka character. He might as well be wearing a fright wig and honking a bicycle horn, except nobody’s laughing. This was him just after Trump got elected – advance to the one minute mark for the quote that made him famous:
The era of the pyjama boy is over January 20, and the Alpha males are back.
This is a mainstream Republican? How did this Hungarian faux-academic neo-Nazi worm his way into the inner circles of what passes these days for the American conservative intelligentsia? Who made the introductions? Was it Bannon?
And how did preserving America’s God-given right to eat great slabs of good fatty beef become the rallying cry of the movement? Did AOC really say she wanted to ban hamberders?
It was into this den of supercharged, overheated mouth-breathers and brainstems that a beleaguered Trump, fresh off his foreign policy star turn in Viet Nam, wandered on stage and did this:
It was like watching a pomeranian leg-hump an ottoman, though to be fair, who isn’t driven to patriotic fervour bordering on physical lust whenever the P.A. blasts Lee Greenwood’s classic, if ungrammatical, God Bless the USA, with its immortal lyric And I’m proud to be an American/Where at least I know I’m free? (I’m visualizing a Spinal Tap-like scene with the producer in the booth hitting pause over and over and yelling “in America, Lee, I’m proud to be in America, you can’t be free in an American“, an American is a person Lee – a person can’t be where you’re something.”).
That was the sane part. The next two hours – two hours – were a rambling, pop-eyed, arm-waving, face-making rollercoaster ride through the bowels of The Donald’s mental sub-basement, where he hides all the coveted, crazy-assed shit Melania thinks she made him sell on eBay. They’re coming after him with bullshit! It’s unfair! No collusion! The Green New Deal, is that it, the Green something? The crazy Dems want to make it so you can’t watch TV if it isn’t blowing hard enough outside to spin the wind turbines! Darling, is the wind blowing? I want to watch American Idol! That Southern fried traitor Jeff Sessions recused himself! His inauguration crowd – the pictures were a hoax! His was the biggest crowd ever! Listen, you should see the machine guns they got, those guys around the White House, they sit on the lawn, and in the trees, with the machine guns, hundreds of them. He was bored during the government shutdown, and said “Let’s go to Iraq!!” He met an Army General named Raisin Cain, can you imagine? – Raisin Cain, that’s funny. He knows this other guy in New York who’s a killer, really, an actual vicious murderer. Hey, remember that guy in the movie who played a drill sergeant? You remember the movie, the guy, he was cast because he was an actual drill sergeant and better than the actors. What was that movie? You remember. He should have won an Oscar!
The first attachment above, arguably, doesn’t even show the weirdest parts. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d blurted out “How about that Melania, huh? The tits on that broad!” Maybe that, finally, would have made his audience uncomfortable? It certainly didn’t bother anybody that along with the rambling nonsense, Trump, according to fact checker Daniel Dale, also managed to squeeze in sixty lies, about one every two minutes. I guess you can’t expect the CPAC crowd to know bullshit when they hear it, or care anyway, but apart from Dale, nobody in the press cared about it either. Yawn. Ho hum. Not newsworthy.
The insufferable Republican pundit Bret Stephens, still pretending that none of this can be laid at his doorstep, was on MSNBC a day or so ago talking about what a smart speech Trump gave, how well he got the crowd riled up, how it was such good politics. Uh-huh. Look, Bret – buddy – his speech was a real barn burner because they’re all crazy. The President of the United States was firing them all up by being demented. Literally, Bret, demented, like your poor old granddad when they had to put him in the facility, only way more angry, and in command of enough military firepower to render the planet a desolate, blackened, almost sterilized lump of charcoal upon which evolution might one day begin anew, starting with whatever microbes survive. Bret.
Good politics? It was a two hour oral argument for invoking the 25th Amendment. No joke. The man’s not well, but nobody in that room, or anybody in the wider GOP, is ever going to tell him, and this isn’t even The Emperor’s New Clothes any more. Nobody says anything because they’re all buck naked, with their private bits flapping in the breeze as King Donald marches by in all his glory, proud and resplendent, just like them.
Here, have another heaping helping: