I saw a tweet yesterday—“How Obama Could Have Killed Bin Laden Harder”—that cracked me up. Intrigued, I clicked on the hashtag #CPACpanels and saw several people who populate my Twitter timeline making fun of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention in Washington D.C. this week by coming up with make-believe names for their panels. My favorite tweet in this list – “How Ronald Reagan Killed Osama Bin Laden From Beyond The Grave” – was a twofer, ridiculing both the patron saint of conservatism and the recent assertion by Sean Hannity that President Obama “really didn’t want to kill Osama bin Laden” in one fell swoop.
After laughing at a few of my other favorite fake panel names – ones like “Not A Coincidence: The Greatness Of America Is Fully Explained Through Everything You Are And Everything You Like”, “If You Can't See The Socialism, You're Not Looking Hard Enough”, “Brown People Or Brown-ish People: Which Is The Greater Threat?”, “Liberal Bias: Your Answer To Everything”, “We're Not Racists, We Just Have Two White Supremacists Speaking At Our Conference By Coincidence”, and “The Leninist History Of Teleprompters” - I was more than a little curious to see what the agenda at the real CPAC looked like.
Of the estimated 5,500 attendees and most of the 1,200 credentialed “media” at CPAC, a significant portion are college students, part of a youth movement that has increasingly skewed the conference’s demographic. But although that youth contingent at previous conventions brought with it almost a party atmosphere, most attendees this year were gravely serious and intense. On the dais of the Marriott Wardman Park Ballroom, lawmakers, conservative commentators and movement leaders reflected the crowd’s angry, determined mood.
Lawmakers repeatedly lashed out at President Barack Obama for practicing what Republicans have come to label the “politics of division.”
A few clicks later, I had access to the 21 page PDF file that listed all of the events planned for the three day event. CPAC is not really a Republican event but a conservative event, which is how you get past keynote speakers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. I was supposed to be investigating the event for my own information, but the longer I read through the names of actual panels being held, panels like “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity”, the more I wondered if the people who were just having fun on the #CPACpanel hashtag knew how close their tongue-in-cheek concoctions had come to the genuine articles. Some of the more eyebrow raising panels are below:
From Fidel to Chavez: How Do We Stop the Resurgence of Socialism in Latin America – Marshall Ballroom*
Is Fusionist Conservatism Still Possible? – Marshall Ballroom*
Nullification: The Rightful Remedy – CPAC Theater
Criminal Justice Reform: Too Many Crimes, Too Many Criminals – Marshall Ballroom*
In the Name of “Tolerance”: Countering Sexual Identity Politics in Schools & Wait No More – Maryland
Does Hollywood Still Embrace American Exceptionalism?* - Marshall Ballroom
A New Voice Panel - Solutions to Battling Race & Class in Politics - McKinley
Why are U.S. taxpayers spending billions to promote abortion and homosexuality worldwide? – Wilson C
It doesn’t take anyone listening to the live stream of these panels very long to conclude that President Obama is going to end up being named as one of the culprits to whatever problem they are discussing. CPAC is a pep rally type of gathering that is ready made for a Republican presidential hopeful, which is why Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum will be making speeches. No matter what amount of hubris these conservatives heap upon themselves regarding their movement and their importance in the presidential election process this weekend, Erick Erickson has aptly pointed out that Mitt Romney, who is now grudgingly acknowledged as the front runner for the GOP presidential nomination, may not need the support of conservatives to win.