Sunday, March 17, 2013

The GOP and CPAC

And so another CPAC convention has come and gone.  The convention of activist conservatives convenes every year in Washington to discuss conservative ideology, yell and say ridiculous things about Democrats and most recently, President Obama, and to conduct a straw poll of who the conservative darling of the moment will be their choice for President in the next election.

Unsurprisingly, the convention made much of going after President Obama again and decrying the "socialist path" the President was attempting to force down "real Americans" throats.   All the problems of the United States, and probably the world, solar system, galaxy and universe are either blamed on liberals or directly at President Obama.

Sigh.  Did the GOP, who CPAC almost totally aligns with in their choices for elective leadership, not learn anything from the last election?  Well, if the events at CPAC are any answer to that question, then it is a resounding NO.  Let's take a look at who were the featured speakers at CPAC:

1. Rand Paul
2. Ted Cruz
3. Marco Rubio
4. Donald Trump
5. Mitt Romney
6. Sarah Palin
7. Wayne LaPierre

Quite the line up of dignitaries isn't it?  What is even more telling is who wasn't there.  Governor, Chris Christie, who, as the leader of a very Blue State in New Jersey, and enjoys a 70% or better approval rating from both Democrats and Republicans in his state was not invited.  Why?  Well, some might say it was because he got too close to President Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  That, my friends is heresy in the tiny bubble the Conservatives at CPAC live in.  He became a traitor to the cause of deriding all things Obama and therefore was sent to the penalty box for his crimes.  In typical Chris Christie fashion, he said "fine, I hope they have a good time" and went on his way being Chris Christie, who for all intents and purposes is probably the only Republican in the country that stands even a remote chance of challenging the Democratic candidate and winning. 

Also not invited this time was GOProud, the interest group of Gay Republicans, who were guests at the last CPAC convention.  The lesson of November 2012 to this group wasn't "well, we got our tails kicked by a new demographic in this country and gays are part of it, so we need to figure out how to embrace the gays, women, minorities, etc. or we'll go the way of the Whig party".  No, it was double down on the small mindedness that got them soundly thumped in the election.  As Mitch McConnell so adroitly put it, "When you get your tail kicked, you get back up and keep fighting".  That was their message; Dont' change, Don't think, Don't believe in the facts for a minute.  Just keep doing what you're doing and simply be louder and more annoying.

But let's focus on what these luminaries of the right, those darlings of the Tea Party (well, perhaps not Mitt Romney) had to say. Over and over again, they trumpeted nonsensical hyperbole regarding the assault on LIBERTY that this dastardly, potentially Muslim, probably Kenyan, definitely Marxist/Communist/Islamofascist President was engaged in against America.  Marco Rubio, the cherub faced Cuban-American Senator from Florida responded to the President's statement that the GOP didn't have a plan for curing the economy's ills by saying "sure we do, it's called America".  This was the type of claptrap that was spewed forth and eaten up by the attendees like popcorn in a movie theatre. They loved it.  Ms. Sarah Palin, that erstwhile "leader" of the GOP touted that President Obama perhaps should have had a "background check" in responding to sensible plans by both clear thinking Democrats and Republicans on attempting to stem the tide of gun violence in this country.  Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA was happy to stand up and shout to the roof-tops that everyone else was crazy and he wasn't when it came to our nation's gun policy.

Also spoken about at the convention was a new bogeyman, Karl Rove, and they were quick to point out that Mr. Rove's post election analysis of not picking winners was flat wrong.  It was simply that they weren't conservative enough.  Interestingly enough, the "true-believers" still invited Mitt Romney to the party.  One wonders why.  Romney of course did his usual bit about how the Democrats won because they gave stuff away, but no self-reflection on the idiotic campaign he ran nor was there any acknowledgement of the stupidest move a politician ever made in a Presidential campaign:  The 47% statement.  No, the CPAC audience welcomed the former Governor with open arms.

While CPAC may be good for ginning up passion and stoking the furnace of fund raising for candidates, it is also very bad medicine for the GOP.  When you have lunatics like Donald Trump and Wayne LaPierre as headliners at your event, then you don't get taken seriously.  Clear headed Republicans, who know it takes compromise and deals to get something done in Washington are persona non grata at this shindig.  The aforementioned Governor Christie, intelligent and reasonable members of Congress like Steve Rigell from Virginia, former Senators like Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe, former Chairman of the RNC Michael Steele, and many others didn't get to speak or weren't invited altogether.  Their type of conservatism is old-hat, not welcome and was to be shunned.

That's too bad, because this country has stated very loudly that it wants reasonable people in the room making decisions on our behalf.  The election of 2012 was clear.  The people sent the President back to work with a 51% majority.  The Democrats gained seats in the Senate.  While the GOP held the House of Representatives, their majority declined and actually more popular votes were passed for Democrats than Republicans in the election.  The GOP is very fortunate that the states under Republican leadership in the Governor's office and legislatures were able to Gerrymander districts in their favor, which allowed them to keep the House.   So what did the GOP and in particular, this crop of Conservatives that attend CPAC learn?  Nothing.  No, forget about the election.  Forget about the fact that the majority of people want a balanced approach to the economic problems in the country as the President has offered. Forget about the fact that a majority of the people in this country want sensible gun legislation passed. Forget about the fact that Latinos, women, young people, gays, blacks and other voting blocs went to the President by shattering margins.  No, none of that matters as long as they can gather in Washington, recite tired, idiotic phrases that sound like the title of a Stephen Colbert parody book then they will be happy.  Obstruct, destruct, deride, never compromise.  Those are their watch-words and credos.  That is their religion.  That will be their downfall.

I believe in reasonableness in solving problems.  That is why I have such a hard time with these zealots from the GOP.  They seem to think that if they just don't budge and "stay true to their principles" that they have won something.  Meanwhile, we continue to have a weak economy, we continue to see more jobs shipped overseas, we continue to see growing inequality in incomes and wealth.  But, no, it is much more important to deny any potential victory for President Obama and the Democrats because that would mean they would have to compromise one of their principles.  Well, good luck with that folks, because the American people are clearly fed up with you.  All you need to do is go back and read the election returns and exit polls.

Your time for obstinacy and obstruction has passed. You are now simply clownish and comedic in your approaches and if we are fortunate, you will soon be as irrelevant as the buggy whip.

Tell me what you think.