Ringside Seat: CPAC's Buried Lede

Today was the first day of CPAC, and thus another chance to see the GOP’s complete disinterest in reforming itself or its message. Each of today’s speakers, from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, to former Rep. Alan West and Dick Morris (world’s worst pundit), represents the right wing of the Republican Party. 


Indeed, from the panels to the speakers to the general tenor of the conference, CPAC gives no sign that Republicans are at all chastened by their loss in the 2012 elections. The agenda, it seems, is unchanged: Upper-income tax cuts, massive austerity at all levels of government, sharp attacks on reproductive rights, climate-change skepticism, and mounting efforts to limit voting rights through voter identification laws and other measures.

For even more evidence the GOP has not abandoned its “severely conservative” positions of the last four years, look no further than Paul Ryan’s latest budget, which—as many commentators have pointed out—is little more than a manifesto for sharply reducing government to a size unseen since before the New Deal. 

All of this is to say—or rather, repeat—the most vital fact of our current political situation: The Republican Party is still committed to the complete dismantling of the welfare state. As long as that’s true, there’s no compromise or cooperation. The two sides aren’t just far apart; they're operating on different planes altogether.


So They Say

“I think we should see what they did and I think we should, if possible, figure out a way to fix the Supreme Court’s objections. The Voting Rights Act has been, I think, the most effective of all of the civil rights laws. It enfranchised all minorities in the south, and that includes both African Americans and Republicans. If you look at what happened after Section 5 was amended in 1982, the number of African-American and Republican representatives in Congress and in state legislatures has gone way up. ... I’m gonna make them fix it.”

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, a conservative from Wisconsin at CPAC


Daily Meme: Bring Out Your Red!

  • CPAC is here! Bring your Karl Rove cutout and free "Stand with Rand" T-shirt and head on down to the only conservative event of the year where you can see Rick Santorum not once, but six times!
  • Oh, you don't know what CPAC is? Here's a primer.
  • Also, you'll probably get booed.
  • But it's all worth it for the promised teleprompter jokes and Marco Rubio water bottles. Hi-LAR-ious.
  • You might even get to sit with some College Republicans from upstate New York on the way there!
  • So, what's happened so far? Well, Marco Rubio called liberals freeloaders and said some science stuff—despite NOT being a scientist, man.
  • Dick Morris says conservatives should give up on Roe v. Wade, so as not to have "single white women run screaming from the Republican Party."
  • Louie Gohmert is apparently the Elvis of CPAC.
  • Reporters are everywhere. Like one journalist for every 15 attendees.
  • But even if you don't agree with their policies, there's still a chance of finding true love via Red State Date ("You had me at Conservative") . Or Craigslist will do in a pinch. 
  • One person who isn't looking to get swept up in the fun? Jeb Bush, who asked to have his name removed from the straw poll. Does that leave a clear opening for the man who has won more CPAC straw polls than anyone, Mitt Romney? We sure hope so. Or, that he at least gives a severely awesome speech.

What We're Writing

  • Resident Catholic and Georgetown grad Clare Malone gives us some perspective on the new Jesuit Papam that we habemus. The outlook is mixed, but a new Pope could still mean new hope.
  • As trans identities become more common and more commonly accepted, ye olde therapies for trans kids are being called into question. Beth Schwartzapfel goes in depth on one youth clinic that might be a thing of the past.

What We're Reading

  • Maisie Allison steps back and looks at the lay of the conservative media land, and sums it all up for you in a graphic with indispensable captions.
  • Joe Biden. Narrating pictures. Need we say more?
  • Rather than trying to cut down on its 50 percent unplanned pregnancy rate, Texas took the ax to Planned Parenthood funding. The state has won itself an additional 24,000 unintentionally pregnant women and managed to shut down 53 clinics, exactly zero of which administered abortions.
  • Ahh, CPAC—where Guns of the South is required reading and we get to rehash tired historical counterfactuals about how Washington lost Vietnam. (Hint, Mr. Gohmert: turns out civilians run all our wars.)
  • The Senate Democrats' response to the ridiculous Ryan budget is well-considered, but probably too cautious.
  • Whether or not our new Pontiff will be a sea change for the Church, the God Particle is staying the course. Scientists say: We already found it, but now we're really sure.
  • In today's tribute to serious political blogging, we have Kevin Drum's ten-year anniversary of Friday cat blogging. That it's a Thursday, to him, seems to be a real rip-roarer of a funny.

Poll of the Day

A new Pew poll finds that the number of mothers looking for full-time work has increased from 20 to 32 percent since 2007. Tough economic times may have spurred the rise, especially among women in low-wage jobs, who often can only find part-time work.

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