Fitting in at CPAC
Rick 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.