The Conservative Political Action Conference wrapped up on Saturday evening with a chalk-waving rant by Glenn Beck. But not everything at CPAC over the last three days was so bizarre.
In fact, drugstore there were a lot of promising signs. For one, CPAC attendees showed their devotion to social tolerance when they booed Ryan Sorba, head of the Young Americans for Freedom’s California chapter, off the stage. Sorba had condemned CPAC for accepting sponsorship from GOProud, a group that represents gay Republicans.
(On this note, read about FrumForum contributor and openly gay conservative Alex Knepper’s confrontation with Sorba at CPAC here.)
Other promising signs included Newt Gingrich speech, in which he acknowledged the need for ‘principled engagement’ with Democrats, and Michelle Bachmann’s speech, which was passionate and surprisingly un-crazy. Even Dick Armey had something positive to tell tea partiers, saying: “We don’t have to be angry.”
On the other hand, there were some steps back, the most noteworthy of which was Glenn Beck’s speech, where Beck argued against a bigger tent philosophy in the GOP. Also disappointing was the panel ‘Saving Freedom from the Hoax of Global Warming’, which featured enthusiastic head-nodding by all parties involved. And of course, the most annoying aspect of the conference were the petty Obama-teleprompter jokes that continued well into the third day of speeches.
But what did the conference really accomplish? At the end of the day, there was little intellectual progress. Few new ideas were debated, and there was fairly little tension among panellists or speakers. CPAC may just have been a three-day pep rally – or, as the Daily Beast’s Benjamin Sarlin reports, a giant, 10,000 person speed dating service.
Of course, CPAC attendees have to put their own twist on everything. Spotted at Reaganpalooza, an annual post-CPAC party at the legendary Hawk and Dove pub: a guy and a girl ‘grinding’ – a not unusual sight at Hawk and Dove. The twist? She had her blackberry out.
‘Til next year, then!