CPAC: Dick Cheney

Well, Day 1 of CPAC 2005 is in the books.

The banquet, which featured Vice President Dick Cheney as the before-dinner speaker, was interesting. I’ve always liked Cheney, in much the same way as Rumsfeld, simply because they’re rather curmudgeonly and are sufficiently liberated by not having ambitions beyond their present position to more-or-less speak their mind. The veep didn’t say anything particularly surprising, except that an intended joke line that we had more people in the income tax preparation business than we have in the United States Army fell flat. Cheney got a laugh when he deadpanned “hey, that was a pretty good line!” when he failed to get the anticipated reaction the first time. Of course, unintentionally reminding people that the Army might oughta be a little bigger right about now is not necessarily the best fodder for humor.

Overall, though, Cheney was amusing and charming. His tributes to two soldiers, one a 39-year-old NYC firefighter who raised the flag after 9/11 only to die last month with his Army National Guard unit in Baghdad and the other a young immigrant from Haiti who died recently from terrorist activity, were especially compelling.

Still, my reaction to the dinner festivities was much like my reaction to the first day overall. There were a lot of high-powered speakers who had a lot to say but, for whatever reason, didn’t say it. While I’ve been bored at plenty of academic conferences, I’ve generally found them much more engaging than these type of events.

Partly, this is just a function of my natural grumpiness combined with being enough of a political junkie that it’s hard to say anything I haven’t heard–hell, blogged–before. But I expect there’s more to it. Washington policy insiders spend so much time delivering their boilerplate to the media and various other venues that they’re simply unused to speaking their minds. Still, giving what amounts to warmed-over campaign speeches at a forum where the audience is almost definitionally already on your side is dull at best, condescending at worst.

I suspect I’d have had a better time at a liberal version of this–say, a MoveOn.org convention. At least there, the speakers would rant and rave about the Bush Administration and say things to generate controversy.

See CPAC Bloggers for the reactions of other bloggers with credentials to the convention.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Wizbang says:

    CPAC Day One Roundup
    Visit CPACBloggers.com for aggregated coverage of the 20 bloggers covering the Conservative Political Action Conference. Here’s some notable coverage of day one at the Conservative Political Action Convention.Kevin McCullough has a roundup of the blo…

  2. CPAC BLOGGING
    James Joyner reacts to Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech last night. Wizbang has a round-up of Day One. Aggregated CPAC coverage here. I’ll be dragging my flu-ridden self and family down to the conference later this afternoon for a book…

  3. Retread says:

    I agree that a MoveOn.org convention might provide more thrills, but when the talking is over I’m glad the adults are in charge of acting.

  4. Ron says:

    Your comment on Cheney’s joke was very funny to me. I thought Cheney was poking fun at how ridiculously complicated our taxes have become, not how small the army.
    Thanks, Ron

  5. James Joyner says:

    Ron: Yes, of course. But the joke fell flat.