CPAC Final Report

We had another fun day at CPAC. The day’s beginning was also the highlight–Andrew Breitbart on the main stage. Andrew is one of the conservative movement’s brightest stars, and he showed why this morning. The announced topic of his speech was Pigford, but he never actually got there. He was off and running on one humorous riff after another; my 14-year-old daughter thought he was hilarious, as did the rest of the audience. As at the Oscars, they finally had to start the music to cue him off the stage, to the regret of the audience. A good video of Andrew’s performance may be available somewhere, but I haven’t found anything better than this on YouTube. It is the first of three parts; you can find the rest here:

I was with Andrew for a while after his speech; it was like trailing after a rock star. Every few seconds someone would congratulate him, hand him a business card, ask for his autograph, etc. In the 19th century, Andrew would have been an impresario. He brings a desperately needed sense of showmanship, along with an appetite for combat, to the conservative cause.
Some time later we were in the lobby of the hotel where CPAC was held and saw a crowd gathering in the bar/lounge area. A film crew was following Andrew around, and another guy was interviewing him. Andrew gave the interview while lying on a table. A crowd gathered, and a good time was had by all:

Some time in the coming months, a documentary film will be released that covers the last, highly eventful, year of Andrew’s life. We saw the trailer. It looks very funny, and very good.
Haley Barbour followed Breitbart–a tough assignment. I missed his speech, but my wife and daughter thought he was good. Later on we saw David Horowitz, one of the great warriors of our movement. He talked about the national security menace posed by radical Islam and the obliviousness to that menace that pervades large sectors of the establishment, including some on the right. He got a thunderous reception from the CPAC crowd.
A lot of the day was devoted to bumping into old and new friends–people like Andrew Marcus, Evan Coyne Maloney, John Nolte, Katie O’Malley, Debbie Lee, James Hohmann, and more. We took most of the afternoon off to go to the spy museum, and missed Jonah Goldberg and Ann Coulter.
We capped off the evening with dinner Hugh Hewitt and two of his friends, one a Congressman and one a senior official in the Obama administration–whom, I learned, we ripped in a post a few years ago. He didn’t take it amiss, however, and appreciated the fact that we gave his response to our post the last word. It was a delightful evening. If I took away one lesson from the conversation, it was that TARP was bad medicine, but in some form, had to be done.
All in all, CPAC was a great experience. Attendance, led by young people, set a record. The candidate speeches were well received, pretty much universally. We missed Mitt Romney and Mitch Daniels, both of whom did very well, by all accounts. The GOP has, in my opinion, a deep field of candidates for 2012. Pay no attention to the straw poll–the Paul-bots make a point of turning out their students, most of whom will come around as they get older, and balloting was closed before prospective candidates like Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour had even appeared before the group.
The dominant impressions had nothing to do with the merits of individual candidates: the tremendous vigor and energy we are seeing in the conservative movement; the influx of a new generation of freedom-loving, highly talented youngsters; and a pervasive sense of confidence and good humor. We’ve had three-day periods when we’ve laughed more, but not many.

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