"Could anything be more delicious than the thought of replacing New York's unctuous, out-of-touch, all-about me Senator Schumer with the fresh-faced voice of reason and boyish enthusiasm that is former Reagan economics advisor — and early Sarah Palin fan!" — we blogged a couple of weeks back in "The Brown Revolution: Term limits by other means? If you share our enthusiasm, head on over to help "draft Larry Kudlow to knock out Chuck Schumer!"
"We were expecting more anger, and there isn't any," a CBS interviewer covering CPAC last weekend told our fellow Taxachusetts tea partier Carol Ward, who was there. She's agreed to share her impressions with our readers:
Carol Ward, Watertown, MA. It is tough to summarize three days of CPAC, an interesting and heady combination of ideas, politics, media and aspiring contenders.
Anyone who wants to be anyone in Republican national politics makes at last a drive-by through CPAC [with a few notable exceptions like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mark Levin, who kept the talkers talking with their "regrets"]. Is it heavy on the “establishment” conservative? You betcha. It is probably the only place in the world where both Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich could get standing ovations just for walking in the room:
Note to Newt: You are a politician, not a lesser god. The orchestrated appearance from the back of the room to the “Eye of the Tiger” was way over the top. Way, way, way over the top. To a nation looking for a little humility and graciousness, that act personified hubris. If Dick Cheney could walk onto the stage from the side, so can you.
And let's not forget Scott Brown, who had a special cameo appearance introducing Mitt Romney. He was funny and gracious, just the way he was during the campaign.
On Friday I was stopped by two reporters and a cameraman from NBC who were looking for a few sound bites. What I said ended up on the cutting room floor. What I wish I had said is in brackets below:
NBC: Why did you come to CPAC?
Carol: I was interested in hearing the ideas — ideas of freedom and the importance of the Constitution. [That, and taking the measure of the men and women who would lead us. Though I was fooled by Mark Sanford last year.]
NBC: Any speakers who have impressed you?
Carol: No, not really. [Drat — I should have said Marco Rubio, but there had been just too many speeches in 36 hours.]
NBC: Not anyone?
Carol: Well, George Will. [It was a good speech, but at this point George probably has enough accolades. Should have said Rubio.]
Somehow the Tea Party came up, and I confessed that before last April I had never in my life been to a protest, but I had gone to the April 15 Boston Tea Party:
NBC: What was that like?
Carol: I learned I was not alone. There may be a few crazies on the fringes, just as there are with all groups, but most people were like me, interested in freedom. [I talked to a lot of people and we all felt the same — we were not alone. There are more of us than you can possibly imagine. The consequences will be something you cannot believe.]
NBC: Have you been to CPAC before?
Carol: Yes, I came last year. This is my second.
NBC: What is the difference between CPAC last year and this year? Is there a difference?
Carol: Yes, last year was slightly moribund. This year there is a more positive sense.
NBC: Do you think you have a chance to take back Congress?
Carol: I am less concerned about labels; it is really about the ideas and commitments to principles. I'm interested in what individual candidates stand for. Other than that it is like team sports. If they are all the same, then it is not any different than different color uniforms. Just saying “I am not the other guy” isn’t good enough.
NBC: But do you think you have a chance to take back Congress?
Carol: Really, I don’t know, and that is not what is important to me. [Like I am the Republican party? Okay, I know there is a real world of difference between being the majority and minority party, but I am not that interested in a repeat of the Congress of 2003 – 2005. Really.]
They were polite, engaging and professional — and after the cameras were off I asked for their impressions:
Carol: Is there anything that you have learned so far?
NBC: Yes, that Mike Pence is running for president. [I laughed and agreed.]
Carol: Anything surprise you?
NBC: We were expecting more anger, and there isn’t any.
I know the old saying that politics is the art of the possible, but it seems that is used to excuse almost unfathomable self-serving behavior by a lot of the political class. With determination and a few strong principles, we have a chance to turn this thing around as we go about engaging our fellow voters. Determination, principles, and an absence of rage. Leave that to the other side.
Note: Much thanks, Carol, for your astute on-the-ground observations.
Related thoughts from two blogger/tweeters who were there:
Melissa Clouthier: "It isn’t about the established DC insiders who put together these sorts of things, it’s about the people who attend them.
Dan Riehl: "The Tea Party movement,not the conservative establishment that hosted CPAC, is most likely our last best hope for an America that has for too long continued to slide Left under both Democrats and Republicans. And it's through the Tea Party movement I believe we can retake the Republican party. I am by no means buying into any third party ideas.
As Carol Ward meant to tell that NBC interviewer, "There are more of us than you can possibly imagine. The consequences will be something the powers that be cannot believe."