Posted on March 1, 2022



Not Ready For Tulsi Time

CPAC should just pac it in


Daniel Clark



The formal title of the political event known as CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference, although it hasn't truly been that for quite a few years. Rather that advocating the conservative political philosophy, as its name would suggest, it has become little more than a gathering of compulsive followers, chasing after whatever political faction is perceived to be on the rise. In the first half of the 2010s, CPAC flirted with the libertarians, only to jilt them in favor of the alt-right by mid-decade.

Last year, it descended into a populist cult of personality, highlighted by a golden statue of the Right Worshipful President Donald J. Trump, wearing star-spangled boxer shorts and holding a magic wand, and generally looking like an even creepier version of the Big Boy restaurant mascot. Remember that it was Trump, when confronted about not being a conservative during the 2016 primaries, who pointed out that the Republican Party is not called the Conservative Party. The fact that CPAC had become all about him suggests a serious identity crisis for the event, and the American Conservative Union, which founded it.

It can only be as a result of a total memory loss about its own purpose that CPAC invited former Democrat congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to speak at this year's convention. Gabbard, who endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2016, is a proponent of "free" college education, "single-payer" health care, and "universal basic income." She wants to ban fracking, "reform" the electoral college, and prohibit "assault weapons," While trying to disarm law-abiding citizens, she has sought to abolish cash bail and mandatory minimum sentences.

On the plus side, Gabbard did introduce two pieces of pro-life legislation in December 2020, but these deviations from her previous pro-abortion absolutism came less than a month before she left office. Was this the beginning of a genuine conversion, or a cynical political repositioning, by someone who knew that neither of her proposals would be taken up before the next Congress convened anyway? The fact that she never brought up the issue in her CPAC speech gives us a hint.

Gabbard, having served in the Iraq War, is presented as an unimpeachable foreign policy authority, as she promotes views that are far more consistent with those of libertarians or liberals than those of conservatives. If her speech had any discernible focus, it was her opposition to all policies related to America's national defense and security. An unwavering supporter of American traitor and Russian stooge Edward Snowden, she repeated his simplistic and inaccurate accusations against the National Security Agency for "illegally spying on Americans." Naturally, it was Snowden's dedication to freedom that caused him to seek refuge in the shirtless bosom of Vladimir Putin. After many months of promising proof that the NSA was "spying on you," he ultimately produced a list of 202 Muslim Americans, surveillance on whom neither Snowden nor his media mouthpieces contended had been done without warrant.

Gabbard went on to accuse "the neocon-neolib establishment" of "misusing our military men and women by sending them out to be the policemen of the world, overthrowing dictators we don't like while turning a blind eye to the ones that we do." That's a childish and dishonest caricature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which refuses to acknowledge any such thing as a national interest. To think that CPAC put on a speech like this at an event it calls the Ronald Reagan Dinner. How's a man to keep his jellybeans down?

Not being the most gracious guest, Gabbard took a moment to scold the "so-called conservatives" in the audience who criticized ACU chairman Matt Schlapp for inviting her to speak, flippantly attributing their objections to "tribalism." What she considers to be a tribe is really a group of adherents to a particular political philosophy, for whom CPAC is supposed to be an annual discussion of how best to advance it. Recognizing that she doesn't share their interests is hardly an assault on free speech.

Conservatives generally have a somewhat favorable opinion of Gabbard, mostly because Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris despise her, but that shouldn't be enough. The event is not the Socialists With A Comparatively Sunny Disposition Conference, nor is it the Democrats Who Don't Like Joe Biden Conference. It isn't even the People With Whom Tucker Carlson Is Smitten Conference. It's supposed to be the Conservative Political Action Conference, except that these days you could swing a dead elephant in the hall without hitting any conservative political action.

As if in an exercise of self-parody, Schlapp himself is now shunning the word "conservative." In an interview with the studiously disheveled, multi-shirted, non-conservative Trump confidant Steve Bannon, The ACU and CPAC chairman said, "We are no longer conservatives. We are Americans who love our founding."

What a bunch of schlapp! We have a word for those who love America's founding; they're called conservatives. Others may pay it lip service, but they don't mean it. Gabbard, for instance, presumptuously lectured the crowd about the Constitution at length, yet she obviously does not believe in our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the Fifth Amendment's recognition of property rights, or the Tenth Amendment's constraints on federal power.

Yet, her selective appreciation of the Constitution almost sounds genuine, compared to the gaseous flapdoodle that appears on the ACU website. It's "What We Believe" page states that the Constitution is "the best political charter yet created by men for governing themselves," but does not explain in depth why that is, or what motivated our founders to make it so. It says, "We believe that capitalism is the only economic system of our time that is compatible with political liberty," as if that might be by happenstance. "Capitalism" is a pejorative term invented by Karl Marx to describe free enterprise. Schlapp's organization does not even seem to understand that. If it did, the entire paragraph would be moot; for who doesn't know that free enterprise is compatible with liberty?

It's not as if CPAC has simply deviated once or twice from the original purpose of the event. Rather, it has so completely lost its way over the past dozen years that it no longer has much of an idea who belongs and who doesn't. Radio host Glenn Beck, who preceded Gabbard at the podium, has been saying that he agrees with her on principles, if not politics. That's possibly the most meaningless statement since Bill Clinton declared the era of big government to be over. People's politics are based on their principles. If two people are as far apart on politics as Beck and Gabbard are, there can be little in the way of principles that they have in common.

For example, Beck agrees with the Declaration of Independence that each of us is endowed by our Creator with a right to the pursuit of happiness. Gabbard believes in a governmental bureau of happiness that collects all the happiness in a central location, and then dispenses it in equal amounts among the people. On what principle do they agree, that they are both pro-happiness? That's about how unserious CPAC has become about promoting the ideology that is the ostensible reason for its existence.

If Schlapp no longer finds the word "conservative" applicable, then he ought to have enough integrity to stop using it to misrepresent his organization and its convention. If the event that is now known as CPAC is going to remain an annual collection of people of incongruous political beliefs for little purpose but to hear themselves speak, then he ought to give it a more appropriate title, like Twaddlestock, or Blatherpalooza.



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