By: William Thode
As I sit in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C., at the annual conservative gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC for short, writing this, it is quite obvious that conservatives are back. Last year’s CPAC, the first one I attended, was dry. This one was brimming with energy. Even Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High Party showed up for some free press. The candidates that are likely to run, including the only one who’s declared said intention (Herman Cain,) were there to test the waters. Out of all of them, Mitch Daniels knocked it out of the park. Ron Paul, of course, won the presidential straw poll for a second time in a row due to CPAC becoming more libertarian and fiscally conservative. It seems that to most Republicans, electability is preferred to ideological purity this time around. In other words, Ron Paul doesn’t have a prayer. While I’d like to see Chris Christie run, it looks like he has a lot more to do in New Jersey. Judging by Paul Ryan’s speech on the first day, he’s the best choice for Vice President. A one-on-one debate between him and Joe Biden would be quite interesting. I was also one of the lucky few to get an autograph from Ryan as he hurriedly ran out of the conference center after his speech.
Of the various topics discussed at CPAC, outside of spending cuts, the most interesting panel discussion was the one on where conservatives stand in our country’s popular culture. I fortunately got to talk with some of the panelists, one of which was Stephen Kruiser of PJTV. It is clear that conservatives are finally making some headway in Hollywood. I believe a big reason for that was the recent commercial success of various conservative-themed films like Fireproof and Juno. Conservatives also have a positively-framed Ronald Reagan biopic to look forward to, which starts filming this year. Even the first part of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy debuted at CPAC.
It was also clear that there are many young, conservative, star on the rise. Jason Mattera, the editor at Human Events due to his confrontations with Barney Frank going viral on YouTube, signed my copy of his book, Obama Zombies, which is a New York Times Bestseller. Representative Allen West gave the keynote speech to finish the conference and brought down the house. As I mentioned before, Paul Ryan was there. His speech, where he mentions my economic idols Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, was my personal favorite.
The CPAC trip always results in a wide array of random yet intriguing events. This year, even Ray Stevens showed up for a panel on pop culture. Another panel on pop culture was supposed to have Stephen Baldwin, but he didn’t show up. His friend on the panel claimed he got a call for a meeting he could not miss. I’ll let it slide this time. Oh, and Stephen Kruiser of Pajamas Media played a joke on everyone by inviting them to a party at a room that was empty. We all checked. Did I mention my 21st birthday occurred on the second day of the conference? Yes, I remember everything. Best night of my life.
Considering what occurred the week that followed the conference, from the budget mess to the protests in Wisconsin, it is clear that 2012 could be the GOP’s year. And yet, Ann Coulter’s words still may ring true: “If you don’t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we’ll lose.” Personally, I think Christie is the GOP’s best shot, but Christie said that he would have to commit suicide to convince people he’s not running. We’ll just have to wait and see.