More fun and games at CPAC

As I have mentioned, CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) that is currently going on is basically a closed feedback loop where extreme right-wingers come to hear extreme right wing speakers pander to their deeply held prejudices and fact-free views. Michael Steele used to be head of the Republican National Committee in the years 2009-2011. He also happens to be black. At a dinner on Friday evening for the attendees at CPAC, Ian Walters, a spokesperson for the American Conservative Union that sponsors CPAC, said that “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy. That was the wrong thing to do,”

Steele was incensed and CPAC chair Matt Schlapp appeared with him on a radio show today where he proclaimed his undying love for Steele and tried to explain away his spokesperson’s words and deny that the Republican party is racist. It failed miserably as Steele called him out on it. It was an interesting discussion as Schlapp tried to defend the indefensible. Unfortunately for him, he could not use the normal right-wing tactics of name-calling and flat-out lying because he was talking with a fellow Republican.

But the fun and games did not end there. The crowd was naturally incensed when on Friday one speaker tried to persuade them that immigration, including that of (gasp!) people of color, was good for the US. Then on Saturday, another speaker, conservative columnist Mona Charen, aroused the ire of the crowd when she criticized the GOP’s attitude towards women.

Mona Charen, a National Review writer and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was asked during a panel about the Left’s treatment of women what has left her most fired up in the Trump era.

“I’m actually going to twist this around a bit and say that I’m disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women,” she said.

“You cannot claim that you stand for women, and put up with that,” she told the crowd, as several members of the audience shouted, “Not true!”

Charen’s comments were met with heavy boos inside the conference hall, and she was later spotted leaving the conference with a three-person security detail.

And that was not all the hijinks, according to this report in the right wing The Weekly Standard.

It’s been an interesting 24 hours at CPAC.

On Friday night, still high on the rhetoric of the French far-right, attendees booed the claim that Mexicans coming to America have more in common with conservatives than liberals and shouted down a suggestion that Republicans, like Democrats, ought to recruit voters at naturalization ceremonies. Then, when THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s Fred Barnes pointed out that many Mexican immigrants share these values, he likewise drew ire from the crowd.

Later, the discussion turned to talk about the influence of sex panic on young men. And Charen turned her attention to Le Pen. “Speaking of bad guys,” she said, “there was quite an interesting person who was on this stage the other day. Her name is Marion Le Pen. Why was she here?”

Boos and grumbles rose from the crowd. “Why are you here?!” a male voice boomed.

“She’s a young, no-longer-in-office politician from France. I think the only reason she was here is that she’s named Le Pen. And the Le Pen name is a disgrace. Her grandfather is a racist and a Nazi.” Here, a smattering of applause swelled to battle the boos, and Charen strained to talk over them. “The fact is she stands for him. The fact that CPAC invited her was a disgrace.”

More boos cascaded down, but the number of young men applauding her doubled to four, and they were standing.

As the panel wound down, I searched the audience for this quartet, but they were lost in the crowd. When I asked some of the attendees if they were the ones who had applauded Charen, the only responses I got were angry glares.

Man, these CPAC people really love their racists and Nazis.


  1. says

    It’s getting close to the time when we need to start asking “what does ‘conservative’ mean?” Because it appears that the self-applied label is coming to encompass a wide range of things, including some stuff that is clearly soundly rejected by some of the wearers of the label. That makes me think that the “conservatives” have a problem with their identity.

  2. says

    @Marcus, No. 1

    Being a conservative means what it has always meant: I am wealthy and privileged (or I aspire to wealth and privilege) and I don’t want anyone to dilute my wealth and privilege (or chances of aquiring wealth and privilege) for any reason--including their own aspirations to wealth and privilege--by even the tiniest of measures.

  3. says

    @polishsalami, No. 3

    Given that the GOP controls all three branches of the American Government and just awarded themselves a trillion dollar tax cut bonus, please define what you mean by “pack of losers.”



  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    … Her grandfather is a racist and a Nazi.” Here, a smattering of applause swelled to battle the boos, and Charen strained to talk over them.

    Were they applauding the fact that he is a racist and a Nazi, or that he was being called out for it?

  5. KG says

    Mona Charen is Jewish. Perhaps she is finally beginning to notice that the stinking antisemitism of the right never went away. It was just concealed behind “support for Israel” (i.e., Jews are OK as long as they live over there and support American foreign policy/feature in Christian right apocalyptic fantasies), and only allowed out in the form of attacks on bogeymen such as Saul Alinsky, Sidney Blumenthal, and George Soros, who just “happen” to be Jewish. With the ascendancy of the far right, it is re-emerging like a zombie from a shallow grave.

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