All the usual suspects have shown up at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week. The big pow wow, also known as CPAC, is a wildly enthusiastic gathering of republican and tea party movers and shakers who are hell bent on stomping anyone to the left of Chris Christie.
It is also a platform for every fire breathing screecher who wants to be the GOP nominee for president. Yes, that whole morbid posse of wannabes is falling all over themselves right now, trying to make friends and sway those who not only have solid grass roots influence, but boat loads of readily available cash.
That is, no doubt, the reason NJ Governor Chris Christie spoke about, "two great American entrepreneurs," being picked on by Harry Reid. Obviously he was referencing the brothers Koch out of Wichita, KS. Between them, they have enough money to pay for an entire national campaign without any outside help.Their financial support would mean the governor wouldn't have to shift hard to the right in order to try to glom onto money the yokels at super pacs such as Club For Growth control.
Let's face it, Christie watched as Mitt Romney went down the tubes when right of center democrats and independents decided he'd sold out to the lunatic tea party cranks--well--that and when everyone saw the surreptitious cell phone video and realized what an elitist asshole he was. Obviously, Christie is determined not to make the same mistakes. During his speech he told the overwhelmingly white crowd, republicans should, "...start talking about what we are for and not what we are against."
Good idea. Unfortunately the governor then ignored his own advice and didn't say a word about what he was for. In fact he stayed as far away from the subject as he did that whole George Washington Bridge thing which is haunting not only his state administration, but his campaign as well. On the upside, at least he was there. Last year, still incensed over his thanks to Obama for Hurricane Sandy relief, the pure of heart zealots who run the confab didn't even invite him.
Marco Rubio, for reasons known only to him, concentrated on foreign affairs, but didn't offer anything beyond criticizing Barack Obama. At least he realized who he was speaking to, so he and everyone else completely avoided immigration reform. When it comes to that messy and divisive issue, it increasingly appears the official GOP policy is to ignore it and hope, by some act of God Almighty, it will go away.
Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz spoke earlier, mainly delivering jokes about the president. This afternoon Wayne LaPierre of the NRA will be at the microphone making sure we all understand none of us will be safe until every man, woman, and child in the United States is packing a weapon. What he doesn't seem to get is we're nearly at that point now and it hasn't worked out real well for us.
Mitch McConnell showed up totin' a rifle. It was the NRA's gift to outgoing U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK. They called it their "Courage Under Fire Life Time Achievement Award." The honor rather conveniently forgets the only time Coburn was ever "under fire" from his constituency was when a large chunk of them thought he was going too soft on the issue of gun ownership. But hey--what is a small detail when compared to the big picture?
In addition Donald Trump will speak this afternoon, no doubt delivering another rambling, stupefying, assessment of the current situation. His presence on stage guarantees bewildered expressions and lingering trips to the cash bar for vast numbers of attendees.
The highlight of the event will come this weekend when a presidential straw poll is taken. Odds are the winner will be someone like Cruz, or Rand Paul. This is their sort of organization and their type of crowd. NBC reports Christie seemed to recognize it, when he warned the conference, "We don't get to govern if we don't win." It was a thinly veiled shot at the tea party savants who count the people in the hall and come to believe everyone thinks just like they do. Meanwhile, it never dawns on them there are tens of millions of other Americans who aren't there and steadfastly believe they're fucking nuts. This debilitating condition is also known as FOX News Syndrome, most famously exhibited by Karl Rove and Dick Morris a year and a half ago.
Obviously the republicans are in trouble when it comes to national elections. They are too old, too white, and the very idea of compromise causes a huge number of them to howl and foam at the mouth like rabid werewolves. When it comes to dealing with minorities and the potent Hispanic demographic, the only plan the party seems to have truly committed itself to is making sure none of them can vote. It is a strategy which has caused the American election process in places like Florida to resemble those in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Iran.
Luckily the weekend is only a day away and the NCAA basketball tournament is just around the corner. It is the sort of cleansing process one needs after dealing with an extended convocation of nattily dressed thugs and grifters. Indeed, forget all about those scaly groupers for now and concentrate on what the brackets might look like. After all, there will be money, not to mention pride, at stake.
Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is open.