Reason magazine is covering it this year. We ran into Kennedy and crew filming interviews for reasonTV (reason coverage link above).
Apparently prices, especially for sponsors, were doubled this year, so there seem to be many fewer attendees, including most gay, libertarian, and even some tea party groups. The Libertarian Party had a booth for years in the exhibitors hall, but hasn’t for several years. American for Prosperity has no booth. And Campaign for Liberty is shrunken from its Ron Paul campaign years of having one or two aisles of booths of related groups like Young Americans for Liberty to having only one booth.
CPAC is again held inconveniently at Washington National Harbor, the resort complex rubes think is in DC that is actually far away in Prince George’s County in Maryland, on the Potomac, near Andrews Air Force Base. CPAC organizers say they outgrew DC hotel space but many think the real reason for the move last year was that the Occupy protesters confronted Andrew Breitbart, when CPAC was in DC, in 2012, where the late, great Achilleus of the center-right harangued the occupy under fay. CPAC wagers that Occupy, which in DC has to hire the unemployed and homeless people so it has enough bodies at a protest, aren’t competent to find National Harbor or charter a bus to get there. CPAC offers bus service from Union Station on Capitol Hill (last year it also offered it from George Washington University).
I’ve been covering CPAC for my blogs since 2007. The three perpetual fault lines are: Ron Paul and other libertarians vs neoconservatives and pro-military groups; gay conservatives vs people who want no gay groups as sponsors; free market Muslim Americans and their supporters vs people who want no tincture of Islam allowed. The anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-libertarian forces have won most battles, and excluded most groups from sponsorships and exhibits who fall under those three categories, with only Ron and Rand Paul left. This year they also refused to rent space (and presumably sell wedding cake) to one of those single issue atheist groups as well. I think the Ayn Rand Institute may still be in but I will have to check to see if they have a booth as they did last year. However CPAC may lose the war, since they want the young peoples, and when they show up they usually end up being over half libertarian leaning, even if you barred their sponsoring groups.
The other usual CPAC experience is leftover or “liberal” journalists looking for snark. In the past this has taken the form of checking gay ads on craigslist etc. and then reporting the shocking finding that 20-something gay conservative boys away from home in a big city staying in hotels actually look to hook up with each other – the depravity knows no ends! Last year Betsy Rothstein, a reporter for FishBowl (now with The Daily Caller), filed a report on how one exhibitor dared to have a poster with an unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton, at the CPAC conference – in Baltimore. She thought, I believe, she was at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor instead of Prince George’s County’s National Harbor, based on the time spent on her expense account Uber ride.
I got there late last afternoon and only stayed until 9 pm, for about 6 hours of CPAC experience. Here were my impressions:
Kennedy, Matt Welch, Meredith Bragg and other reporters said journalists were really scratching for something to cover.
Newlywed Yahoo News journalist Chris Moody, a former Cato intern, seemed almost giddy as he ran about snapping photos. He’s such a nice young man.
British author and environmentalist critic James Delingpole was trying to meet journalists, carrying his new book on Eco-fascism, but he had no publicist or helper and none of the Americans knew who he was by looking at him. (I tried to help a little.)
Glen Reynolds of Instapundit won a journalism award from Accuracy in Media, and Dana Loesch, formerly of Breitbart and now of Glen Beck Inc. accepted it for him (video later). During the Q&A everyone asked her where Glen Beck was and why he didn’t come to CPAC.
I overheard a young journalist say “I was thinking about covering Rick Santorum, though he’s really irrelevant now.” To which his young intern friend said “He came in second behind Romney last time.”
At the small (20 people) happy hour for the Republican Liberty Caucus (where 45 were expected) at a nice bar called Harrington’s. Token Libertarian Girl, FreedomWork’s Julie Borowski, and Republican Liberty Caucus candidates from South Carolina and New Mexico addressed the prospects for the Liberty movement and the threat of Libertarian Party spoilers to Republican candidates. One Congressman from the south opined that Libertarian Party candidates are now stealing votes and ruining elections for half a dozen GOP candidates every election – and noted that in some cases, for less libertarian GOP candidates, he didn’t mind seeing this happen. I kept waiting for one to advocate the usual Republican strategy of keeping Libertarians off the ballot but no one did. Julie Borowski then decamped for the annual Blogger Bash across the street at a piano bar called Bobby McKay’s, where she was nominated for a blogging award.
I spent the night drinking with a right leaning libertarian friend who is married to a Republican Liberty Caucus organizer, who works in, as they say in DC, IC. Meaning the intelligence community. She says Judge Napolitano is wrong that the Ukranian uprisings wee funded by the Obama regime. A Campaign for Liberty organizer then argued in our private beer fuled symposium that they many not have been government funded, but they were funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and other government supported groups.
Tonight I will be “covering” the Leadership Institute reception and a private, invite only Breitbart.com party (assuming they allow one to repeat what was said etc.) and hope to get to the actual event earlier, before lunch, as well.