Authors Note: Due to the large number of interviews we elected to post multiple videos in a few posts. This will be the first of a short series. Videos are at the bottom of this page.
First, a CPAC Recap
Sandwiched between the front half and back quarter of the hall, the media section was dead quiet during the speeches. The media’s mostly younger faces were either stoic, smug, or somewhat bemused by the theater of it all. President Trump came to thank and rally his base and the media plebs wouldn’t have any of it. When the crowd roared with approval, the bearded, horned-rimmed New York Times writers and pantsuit brigades at CNN and Yahoo! “News” sniffed contempt.
Sitting amongst these arbiters of truth, I wasn’t pretending to be an unbiased journalist. I’m not a real reporter … besides some college writing courses 30 years ago I never went to journo school or learned “objectivity” from lefty professors as my temporary colleagues supposedly had.
But it was these same attending media who confidently predicted the remnants of conservatism would be left to a Soros funded “alt-right” history museum where children would one day learn that courageous coloring book therapy groups Trumped hate!
The ACU’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was the first major right-of-center convention since America elected its Energizer-Bunny-in-Chief. While I attended December’s delightful seven-day romp aboard the Weekly Standard Cruise, that was less convention and more Rorschach test of those demoralized conservatives sailing the SS #NeverTrump, most of whom by the way were nowhere to be seen in National Harbor.
The District of Columbia has become a political Disneyland. The shining city on a hill has experienced massive growth in new commercial and residential real estate, parks, statues, and should a pedestrian drop some convention swag on the sidewalk, Manny, Moe, and Jack Kennedy immediately jump out from shadowy Freemason tunnels to sweep up with $2,400 government dustpans.
The swamp has been spit-shined with taxpayer funded largesse. Its denizens, those well compensated government gravy-train bureaucrats, enjoy pensions private sector risk-takers could only dream of. Nourishment from the union protected trough has allowed this city to live very, very well. But for years the rest of America watched the fire-hose of nepotism resulting in Conservatives now gathering to celebrate the win of the most outspoken President since maybe Teddy Roosevelt.
Once inside the sprawling Gaylord Convention Center, Hotel, and Mosh Pit, the enthusiasm was electric. While Trump wasn’t the first primary choice for many, once nominated he was significantly more attractive than rewarding 30 years of corruption at Clinton, Inc. Seeing the happy attendees and hordes of selfie-taking students, it’s hard to believe just 14 weeks ago many believed Candidate Trump’s no good, very bad campaign would not only lose, but would also take down the GOP Senate.
While I am openly a free-market conservative, I never went easy on Candidate Trump. Like many, I voiced my concerns and wrote extensively on issues that I (and most others) thought would derail the Republican chances of taking back the White House.
So as an adopted “reluctant Trumper,” I asked myself how at several points during his speech I got out of my seat, stood, and applauded for the man I never expected to be President. Did I drink the Joel O’Steen-like revival Koolaid? I don’t think so. On Election Day I noticed I was not uncomfortable voting for the man, and I have been generally pleased, even delighted, with much of his agenda since. Furthermore, as Steve Bannon confirmed to the CPAC audience, his daily routine is centered around fulfilling every promise made during the campaign.
More than anything, what I realized was the man in person is not the man we know on TV. He was dynamic and, like Reagan, did it with poise and humor. There’s a presidential sobering happening with the Donald, and it shows.
2017: A Millennial Odyssey
Much of the CPAC crowd was young. This is worth repeating from an earlier post as it’s important. First, through years of state-based local organization the GOP now has a very deep bench, unlike the Democrats who held onto the Clinton/Obama era playbook along with their septuagenarians preaching bankrupt political, economic, and social policies to their ever-hysterical yet shrinking base.
For years Democrats have become the malfunctioning Total Recall robot woman repeatedly shouting the now meaningless “racist” which has become the ad hominem equivalent of navel lint; while initially mildly curious, neither will impact your day for more than two-Mississippi.
This isn’t our parent’s GOP. Yes, multiple speakers spoke to the pillars of Conservatism – those oldies but goodies like free markets, low taxes, reducing regulations, energy independence, blah, blah, blah. This crowd applauded at the right lines but that response was more inspired by the crowds elders. No, 2017 is different. Lord of the Flies Part Deux, where boys and girls made up rules for their own version of Republican Island.
Those overpriced strategists and consultants who got it all so very, very wrong during the campaign (we could all name a few among us) are no longer necessary. On Republican Island there’s no interest hearing from politicians and milquetoast RINOs who gave us a $20 trillion debt or hearing regurgitated quadrennial platitudes that never achieved anything but to line the pockets of a select few.
This crowd wanted red meat from the man himself, and they got it. You likely saw President Trump’s stem-winder, so a recap isn’t necessary, other than to say the energy in the room lasted well beyond his many, many … many words. But the audience forgave his lack of brevity as those words were the best words. He was speaking directly to them and every living room in America, without Jake’s, Wolf’s or Van’s filter.
The Nelson Strategy
Outside the hall we interviewed luminaries and DC power brokers. We discussed the delicious demolition derby that is the gobsmacked Leftists desperate to find any strategy to revamp their diminished base. So far, besides childish rants from activists, we really only see one thing: “#Resist!” So far that means wearing weird white outfits to the (kinda) State of the Union and keyboard warriors pretty-pleasing Alec Baldwin to replace President Trump at Pouty Nerdprom (aka: White House Correspondents Dinner). In other words, they are taking political cues from the Simpson’s Nelson — pointing and laughing. (#NeenerNeener2018)
But more telling, Democrats proved they can’t take off the Clinton/Obama swim floaties by electing former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez and his trusty lieutenant Keith “Farrakhan” Ellison to run the DNC. A Marxist lawyer and an anti-Semite run the Left, folks. By the way, Ellison probably would have won the leadership post himself if the DNC believed in fair and free elections beyond Hillary’s anointed ones.
After six years of massive Democratic losses at both federal and state levels, few strategists understand why they continue with Obama’s losing playbook. In fact, they brought out an old retired Governor from Kentucky to respond to the President’s Tuesday night speech, and most people wondered “why is every station playing the same catheter commercial?”
There really is only one explanation: They. Have. Nothing. No bench, no up-and-comers, nothing in the pantry or even the frost-filled garage freezer.
For decades the Democrats ignored their state organizations because DC was the ever-abundant teat, but they sucked it drier than the dehydrated salted kale one eats while watching Maddow.
For the foreseeable future the modern Democrat party will be wandering the desert. It takes time to rebuild, and barring any seismic shift, mathematically 2018 looks like another shellacking for the House of Sa
Calling the Sane Ones
Former Democrats also attended CPAC and told us they came into the party of Kennedy, then became Reagan Democrats and 30 years later have watched their former party monopolized by the leftist identity warriors. Like most normal people, they are moderates who want the same things as us, such as school choice for their kids. After all, wealthy Democrats and elites already have a choice — it’s called private school. They want fewer regulations on their small businesses. They want a strong leader in the White House who doesn’t throw Israel under the bus by enabling its enemies. They want to send a loud message to the liberal identity warriors that you cannot win an argument by simply calling your opponent racist, yelling “KKK,” and dropping the mic.
So, they pulled the lever for the man they may not have personally liked, but policy-wise, made them more optimistic.
Presidential honeymoons are a brief period of bipartisan harmony. But as with everything Trump does, his is different. President Trump not only hasn’t had a honeymoon, but has a vocal number in the wild-eyed opposition party already calling for his impeachment.
And yet … honey badger don’t care. Neither do his supporters.
These former Democrats hope the few remaining silent moderates on the Left will work with this populist President on issues they feel important: Trade, immigration, and education reform, among others. And then they look to the left and right before whispering, “…I am actually really enjoying this. Trump is the right President for the right time. He speaks for all of us.”
If the response to the President’s CPAC and his (sorta) State of the Union speech is any indication of how he is viewed outside the lens of media disdain, barring a significant scandal, President Trump could enjoy 1984-type reelection numbers. But it’s still a long way to 2020.
With my good friend and tireless producer Melissa Praemonitus (aka, @6foot2inhighheels), we interviewed about 20 individuals covering multiple issues. Too many to plaster all over Ricochet, so this will be the first of a few posts with several videos in each. We hope you enjoy these politicos, luminaries, and a few surprise guests.