Walking the halls here, there was a noticeable difference between Thursday and Friday. Thursday morning saw most attendees suited up to the gills, a professional crowd, or at least a crowd pretending at it (I think I wrote somewhere, or at least I know I muttered, that CPAC that day looked like a Comic-Con in which almost every last one of the attendees are cosplaying as Congressional pages.) Friday saw some more casual visitors, but more nuts on the main stage, and stranger conspiracy theories from those nuts, and then both actual non-conservatives and actual racists showed up and things went to hell in a handbasket. A short rundown:
- Racism at CPAC. A belligerent white supremacist disrupted a panel on how to not be seen as racist with actual, full-on statements of white nationalism; even then, he still was perhaps treated with more respect than an irritated black non-conservative woman at the same panel. More than a few thoughts from me on the conservative problem with ongoing racism, both overt and not, even as the entire movement remains dedicated to denying that racism even exists.)
- Paul Ryan says nothing. He may be the intellectual of the party, but that's only because intellectualism in the party demands you never bother with the details.
- Wayne LaPierre and Michele Bachmann both spoke yesterday. What do they have in common? In a conference obsessed with budget-slashing and outright mockery that government would dare attempt most functions, both conservative stalwarts proposed government spend dump trucks full of money for things. In Bachman's case, for a very liberal thing. Of course, that's not how they put it.
- CPAC in pictures. Pictures and brief notes from the conference and exhibit halls.
- Everybody loves Rand Paul. They don't really know or care what he's "standing" for, but they like the "standing" part very, very much.
Saturday features a who's who of the Republican Party's biggest crackpots. Steve King, Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Artur Davis, Sarah Palin, Phyllis Schlafly, Ann Coulter and Ted Cruz: I won't lie to you, this one's gonna hurt.
The conference organizers apparently decided to stuff the last day chock full of conspiracy theorists and people known throughout the land specifically for the asinine things they keep saying. They have an entire conference on conservatism, and these are the people they pick as their best and brightest representatives? All empathy I have for this crowd is lost: if you think Palin, Coulter, King and Cruz are the kind of people you want to hold up as the best possible conservatives, you just do that then. But please stop asking afterwards why the rest of the country isn't taking you seriously. This is why. This, right here.