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Fitting in at CPAC

CPAC2010Rick Moran isn’t at CPAC 2010, both because he can’t justify the expense of traveling and because his “invitation somehow got lost in the email.” He suspects it’s because Red State is sponsoring Bloggers’ Row this year and he’s written some rather unflattering things about them.  [Red State's Erick Erickson assures me that Moran never applied for credentials and "It definitely wasn't personal to Rick."]

Moreover, he’s not sure he’d fit in.

[T]his is not a friendly gathering where independent thought – or much thinking at all – is welcomed. It is the Palinization of conservatism; the rise of Joe the Plumberarianism on the right as George Will (another who is in bad odor with this crowd) points out

[...]

[T]he neo-rightists who smell blood in the water and wish to take control of the conservative movement are arrogant enough to believe that they have a corner on love for our founding document, and take the simple minded approach that if you criticize them, your devotion to First Principles are suspect. They constantly refer to themselves as “patriots” as if designating oneself thusly actually confers legitimacy on the honorific.

As I mentioned previously, I have never heard of this kind of self-reverence until tea partyers began to identify themselves as “patriots.” Real patriots allow others to append that appellation to them and eschew doing the honor themselves. That’s because some of the prerequisite qualities for being considered a patriot are humility and self-abnegation – not much of which will be on display at CPAC this year.

Second observation; welcoming the Birchers back into the fold while gleefully kicking intellectual conservatives and other “elites” out into the street may be enormously satisfying on an emotional level but brands the neo-rightists as gigantic failures in appreciating irony.

Rick and I are in pretty much the same boat in this regard:  Longtime conservatives who don’t feel at home in the Movement anymore but haven’t, for a variety of reasons, found ourselves overly sympatico with the Democrats, either.   Both of us were shaking our heads at the rise of Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber at the last CPAC.

As noted in a previous post, the large screen TVs in Bloggers’ Row this year are almost forcing me to listen to the speeches.  Interestingly, while I find them mostly tiresome — they’re not aimed at forty-something intellectuals, after all — neither am I finding them nutty.  Hyperbolic, sure.  Occasionally silly, without question.  But even the people touting the rise of Tea Partyism come across as decent and earnest, supporting the new populism in language that Ronald Reagan would have been comfortable using.

But, of course, these are mostly middle-aged men in nice suits.

I do sometimes wonder how much CPAC and the conservative movement has truly changed over the years vice Rick and me.  That is, it may simply be that middle-aged men who spend most of their time reading, writing, and thinking about politics get jaded over time hearing the same rhetoric over and over again.  It was stirring as a 14-year-old during Reagan’s campaign against Jimmy Carter.  It’s long since worn thin.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dantheman says:

    “Rick and are are in pretty much the same boat in this regard: Longtime conservatives who don’t feel at home in the Movement anymore but haven’t, for a variety of reasons, found ourselves overly sympatico with the Democrats, either. Both of us were shaking our heads at the rise of Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber at the last CPAC.”

    You also sound like John Cole of Balloon Juice, circa 2006. Just saying.

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  2. hpb says:

    Rick and are are in pretty much the same boat in this regard: Longtime conservatives who don’t feel at home in the Movement anymore but haven’t, for a variety of reasons, found ourselves overly sympatico with the Democrats, either.”

    You’re conservative?

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  3. Pete says:
  4. An Interested Party says:

    We need only to look at comments on this blog to see how far to the right the goalposts have been moved by some…I mean, seriously, now James Joyner isn’t considered a conservative? No wonder anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman is painted as a “socialist”…please…

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  5. [...] James Joyner looks at the carnage at CPAC and has the following to say: [...]

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  6. Highlander says:

    James,

    I don’t mean this to be a mean or snide remark, just a question and observation.

    Perhaps you have been in,of,and around the “Imperial Capitol” a little too long? My observation after years of hanging around the place,was there were a lot of unhealthy people there, and I didn’t feel so well myself.

    I got the hell out, and never looked back. You seem to me to be a decent enough fellow. You might want to consider evacuating yourself, while you still have an intact soul.

    You know, this nation is filled with wonderful happy places,manned by quite normal,happy people(even in these difficult times). My observation is that the Washington DC area is an exception to that. Despite the DC residents resolute belief that,they are somehow so very special, and the nation could not exist one day longer without them and their services.

    This attitude comes through quite clearly, in your rather condescending view of the CPAC conference and attendees. You are a better man than that.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    This attitude comes through quite clearly, in your rather condescending view of the CPAC conference and attendees.

    Actually, CPAC is mostly a creature of Official Washington. It’s organized by a permanent DC-area PAC and the vast majority of the speakers are part of the permanent DC lobbying class.

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  8. Highlander says:

    James,

    I’m familiar with the CPAC hustlers, and have no problem with your jaundiced view of them as an institution and group.

    But your tendency to look down your nose at us little people out here in the hinterlands is a little tiresome. I mean after all,”we are the people”. Without our taxes, you guys can’t play your game.

    Even in my own family,some of the most “head up their nether regions” people I know,are people who graduated from elite Universities, and hang around DC and NYC. Who would’a thunk it?

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  9. James Joyner says:

    But your tendency to look down your nose at us little people out here in the hinterlands is a little tiresome.

    I’m irritated with a specific subject of the masses: The loud jackasses who turn up at town hall meetings and street protests to spout off on things they clearly know nothing about. They have every right to do it as citizens, but I don’t have to respect the behavior.

    I’ve repeatedly said that even most of the Tea Partiers are honest, decent folk who are rightly frustrated. But some of their leadership and most of the most vocal among them are tools.

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    This anti-elitist view, which is present here and which Sarah Palin personifies, can be just as bigoted as the views held by certain elitists towards the “little people”…yes, I realize it’s all the rage to paint everyone in DC as weird or strange or whatever negative adjective one might use, but who knew that the area was infected with some virus that turns its inhabitants into mutants…

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  11. mannning says:

    It would be refreshing if some of you erstwhile conservatives, such as Joyner and Moran, suddenly decided to be constructive rather than almost always distructive regarding the conservative movement. Try, for once, to post suggestions for improvement of the situation, without being downright nasty about it.

    Not everyone in the movement has a large IQ, many contacts, a facile way with words, and keeps up to the moment with politics, but the voters do respond to sensible suggestions earnestly given from informed people. We have too many Cassandras.

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