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Via New York magazine, we have visual evidence that Donald Trump’s CPAC speech was attended as lightly as Ali Akbar’s Blog Bash. That’s the VIP section, which tells you that very important persons don’t want to sleep through a self-congratulating speech by the owner of the world’s worst comb-over. As Dan Amira reports:
The speech itself was mildly received. There were a few moments of scattered clapping, some chuckling. The biggest applause came when Trump suggested, once again, that we “take” Iraq’s oil and use the proceeds to pay a million dollars each to the families of the American soldiers who died in the war. Trump meandered from topic to topic, but the one unifying theme of the speech was the greatness of Trump.
But Trump was at least as erudite as Michele Bachmann, who presented an alternative “Blogger of the Year” award in a packed room yesterday morning. She has the advantage of being dumb enough to actually believe the inane things coming out of her mouth; conservatives find this endearing. Money quote:
“Through the miracle of bloggers, we’re telling the story” of how conservative values are winning out over liberals, she declared.
That’s right, the internet isn’t a series of tubes or a complex system of electronics. It’s a miracle that happened by holy intent so that conservatives could thrust their epistemically-closed parallel universe upon the world whether we want it or not. Remember, this is the woman who told the same story to two different crowds about a World War II troop ship that was torpedoed by a German “U2 boat.”
And what are we to make of Rand Paul, the darling of the Glenn Greenwald set, winning plaudits from the peace party for his neoisolationism?
“The Republican Party has to change,” Paul said. It especially needs to appeal to young people by expanding its conception of limited government beyond taxes and regulation to things like drug policy, technology, and civil liberties, he explained, because the “Facebook generation” is the “core of the ‘leave me alone’ coalition.”
Like his father, Rand Paul enjoys an odd crossover appeal between progressive pacifists and right wing “patriot” militias. Here, he defines the term ‘civil liberties’ downwards until it only means drone strikes. Remember, Paul (like his dad) dislikes the 14th Amendment, wants to do away with abortion rights, and would let “private property rights” trump the Civil Rights Act. He’s counting on enough people being venal or stupid enough to fall for that act, which is based on a deliberate misreading of Attorney General Eric Holder.
The intentional stupidity of conservative politics has served the movement CPAC purports to represent very well for a long time. But conservatism is now threatened by the very success of Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy, because on key issues that attract the youthful demographic they desire most, there is still no forward momentum. With gay groups kicked out of the conference, for example, the single biggest issue to attract modern American youth is not simply ignored, but actually banned from discussion. The second biggest issue to attract “the Facebook generation” is the environment, which CPAC evidently wants to destroy. The confab included a panel and an industry-sponsored film about the wonders of fracking for natural gas, for instance.
Perhaps the single best indicator of how low CPAC has sunk is the panel entitled “The United Nations vs the United States: The End Run Around the American Way of Life.” Pandering to Agenda 21 conspiracy theories, which enjoyed tremendous currency at last year’s CPAC, the event could have been moderated by the John Birch Society. Yet that organization was kicked out of CPAC after Rachel Maddow found them on the convention floor three years ago. Once again, the purges have been insufficient: by next year, CPAC may very well feature a panel on water fluoridation.