The annual CPAC follies


The shindig known as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) wound up yesterday. This is the annual occasion when the craziest of political crazies get together and Republican politicians fall over themselves to outdo each other in pandering to them. The rule-of-thumb for any aspiring Republican is to say the most extreme things using the most incendiary rhetoric while clinging tenuously to some semblance of reality and not veering off into total lunacy.

Needless to say, this makes for good political theater and so the meeting gets far more coverage in the media than it deserves because not only are the speeches over the top, but reporters can interview any attendee at random and be guaranteed some hare-brained quote.

The meeting also features its famous straw poll where prospective candidates for president are ranked by the attendees. This is a totally useless exercise with no predictive power, since the attendees are self-selected and any politician with a determined set of followers can rig the outcome, something that Ron Paul and now his son Rand have taken advantage of to improve their name recognition, together winning in 2010, 2011, and 2013. All this polls does is confer short-lived bragging rights to those who finish at or near the top.

This year’s results had Rand Paul repeating his win of last year, increasing his vote from 23% to 31%, well ahead of Ted Cruz (11%), Ben Carson (9%), and Chris Christie (8%).

What was interesting was that hopefuls like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio got only 3% and 6% respectively, both lower than previous years.

What surprised me was that in going down the list of past winners, Mitt Romney won in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012. Given that conservatives have never had much love for someone they consider to not be a true believer, I can only assume that he simply out-organized his competitors in those years and stacked the attendees with his supporters.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    In CPAC Speech, Sarah Palin Channels Dr. Seuss to Knock Obama

    Theodor Geisel is dead now, but someone needs to get the word around that he was a solid liberal.

    Geisel was a liberal Democrat and a supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. His early political cartoons show a passionate opposition to fascism, and he urged action against it both before and after the United States entered World War II…
    Shortly before the end of the 1972–74 Watergate scandal, in which United States president Richard Nixon resigned, Geisel converted a copy of one of his famous children’s books into a polemic by replacing the name of the main character everywhere it occurred.[68] “Richard M. Nixon, Will You Please Go Now!” was published in major newspapers through the column of his friend Art Buchwald.[68]
    The line “A person’s a person, no matter how small!!” from Horton Hears a Who! has been used widely as a slogan by the anti-abortion movement in the U.S., despite the objections of Geisel’s widow. While Geisel preferred to let his work speak for itself, he did occasionally speak out to protect his characters from exploitation. In 1986, when the line was first used by the pro-life movement, he demanded a retraction and received one.

    Talking about the president’s handling of Iran’s nuclear capability, Palin said, “Mr. President, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”

    This is someone who should not be trusted with a nuke.

  2. Jockaira says

    They are quite skilled at manipulating the sound-symbols of speech, but have very little grasp of the reality behind those symbols.

  3. says

    Given history, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke” is clearly true. Deterrence works, as was apparent in the second World War, when the only reason that Luftwaffe and Bomber Command aircraft didn’t carry poison gas was that each side knew that the other side had it, and everyone in command remembered the first Word War.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    .. the rule-of-thumb for any aspiring Republican is to say the most extreme things using the most incendiary rhetoric while clinging tenuously to some semblance of reality and not veering off into total lunacy.

    I think a lot of them – esp. Sarah Palin here – have failed very badly at that last bit when it comes to clinging onto even a semblance of reality and not veering into total lunacy.

    Rick “The” Santorum’s praise of our pitiful excuse for a PM has not gone unnoticed :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-10/us-republican-praises-tony-abbott/5309338

    down under.

    Apparently “Mr Frothymix” is considering running for POTUS again.

  5. lorn says

    McCain gave up his credibility as a serious thinker and politician honestly looking out for the best interests of the US when he brought in Sarah Palin as a running mate. Having her a ‘heartbeat away’ from the Oval Office shows a shocking lack of clarity and reason, it was a deft, and cynical political maneuver but not in any way positive for America.

    CPAC caters to, and richly rewards, a cavalier attitude on serious issues, extreme bloviation. It does not reward measured, well reasoned discussion.

  6. Dunc says

    Given history, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke” is clearly true.

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. You might as well say “Given history, the idea that this rock repels tigers is clearly true. After all, you don’t see any tigers around here, do you?”

    the only reason that Luftwaffe and Bomber Command aircraft didn’t carry poison gas was that…

    … incendiaries and high explosives are actually much more effective and reliable.

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