CPAC 2012, Day One

Went to several policy-oriented panels today, but I’ll be writing those up later once I’ve recovered from the frenzy of attending the conference and have had a chance to organize my personal responses. (In other words, expect CPAC to be my source of inspiration for this blog for the next week or so.) Right now, I’d just like to record a few drive-by observations:

  • Throughout the day, I conducted a highly informal and grossly unscientific study: I counted campaign stickers. My result? Rick Santorum was leading the pack by far when it comes to Sticker-Wearing Enthusiasm. I saw maybe one Mitt sticker all day — and the same goes for Newt. Santorum, on the other hand, was being promoted on lapels left and right. Make of that what you will.
  • The GOP field has definitely been frustrating this year, but today, I saw reason for hope: Our up-and-comers – like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul (who is not as insane as the Ronulan) – are awesome. These guys know how to articulate our message in a manner that is both intelligent and personally appealing. Rubio focused on America’s positive impact on the rest of the world, arguing – correctly, I feel – that the so-called “American Century” was a time of phenomenal progress for the entire human family because our example inspired others to seek liberty and free enterprise and reject the repression that, throughout history, has been the rule for mankind rather than the exception. “The greatest thing we can do for the world,” Rubio stated at one point, “is be America.” I couldn’t agree more. Rand Paul, meanwhile, needled Obama for rewarding his rich cronies and cleverly pointed out that Obama’s policies are actually hurting – not helping – the poor. Gas is nearly four dollars a gallon now, he noted, and food prices are rising as well. Both of these realities disproportionately impact low-income families, and they are the direct result of a left-wing energy policy that assumes everyone can afford hybrids and “energy efficient” light bulbs. “Do you hate all poor people,” Paul asked Obama, “or do you just hate poor people who have jobs?” To which I added under my breath, “Or poor people who want jobs.” Just think, for example, of all the poor people who would’ve had jobs had the Keystone Pipeline not been vetoed.
  • At least five separate times, someone on the stage mentioned the contraception mandate, and I personally find that very gratifying. This is not just a Catholic boutique issue. It should be a hot-button topic for anyone who cares about religious freedom, and I’m glad that CPAC’s speakers seem to instinctively recognize what’s at stake.

Tomorrow night, I will have even more to report. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich are on the Friday schedule, and I will be attending all three of those speeches. Be sure to stay tuned!

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